Tony Mokbel (update)

Tony Mokbel, who was arrested in Athens in June and continues to fight his extradition, still has secret sources of income that fund his legal team in Greece.Fourteen people were arrested across Melbourne overnight following the capture of fugitive crime boss Tony Mokbel in Greece.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said more than 120 police officers raided 22 properties across Victoria in the wake of Mokbel’s capture yesterday in Athens.
Fourteen people were arrested and nine were due to appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today.
"These raids were connected with the arrest of Mokbel and are part of an operation called Magnum," she told reporters.
"A large amount of cash, drugs and firearms have been seized as a result of these raids
Detective Superintendent Richard Grant (crime strategy group) said that while the Mokbel syndicate had been smashed, splinter groups continue to operate.
"We would not say it has collapsed but it is collapsing. These people do not give up. They are very resilient. There is so much money to be made that they continue to operate even when they are under investigation," he said.
Detective Superintendent Grant said while work continued on preparing for a series of Mokbel-related court hearings, the taskforce was set to launch a series of fresh investigations into new targets. He said any future investigations would use the same methods developed by Purana and would involve other enforcement bodies, including the Australian Crime Commission and the Taxation Department. While taskforce policing was expensive and drains resources, Detective Superintendent Grant said a joint study by Victoria Police, the ACC and Macquarie University showed Purana more than paid its way.
The joint study found Purana Phase One — which investigated underworld murders — cost $11.3 million but returned $60.5 million. Detectives seized drugs valued at $300,000, proceeds of crime ($2.5 million) and closed five commercial amphetamine labs. The disruption of crime by the arrests of the major players is estimated to have saved $57.7 million.
"The closing of clandestine labs resulted in drugs not hitting the street and as a consequence there were substantial savings to the community and health services through harm avoided," he said. The study estimated the disruption of drug production for 12 months resulted in a return on investment of 536%. Detective Superintendent Grant said the State Government had committed $92 million over six years to fight organised crime and police had to provide a business model to show that the money was used efficiently.
Purana phase one was the highest priority investigation in Victoria and virtually monopolised the police electronic and physical surveillance capacity — bugging 500,000 telephone conversations, taping 53,000 hours of conversations with secret listening devices and conducting 22,000 hours of physical surveillance. As a result, 58 offenders were charged with 298 offences and six key underworld figures became prosecution witnesses.
cocaine smuggler Tony Mokbel is trying to get his Victorian murder and drug charges heard in Lebanon.
Australian officials have been lobbying the Greek and Lebanese governments in a bid to foil Mokbel's latest legal tactic.
They are trying to ensure Mokbel is extradited to Victoria to face two murder charges, 16 drug charges and two charges relating to conspiracy and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Mokbel is accused of murdering underworld heavyweight Lewis Moran in 2004 and drug dealer Michael Marshall in 2003.
Details of Mokbel's new attempt to avoid being extradited to Australia may emerge during a court battle this week.
Mokbel, 42, is due in the Supreme Court in Athens today to appeal against a Greek court's July 26 decision to grant Australia's request to extradite him to Victoria.
Australian officials are confident Mokbel will be extradited to Australia rather than Lebanon but they will not know for sure if their intense lobbying has succeeded until Mokbel is on the plane to Melbourne.
Mokbel's lawyers expressed surprise yesterday Australia would try to convince Lebanon not to extradite him.
"I would like to know exactly what type of lobbying the Australians did," said Mokbel's Melbourne-based lawyer, Mirko Bagaric.
"The implication is they are offering Lebanon some form of inducement and making quite inappropriate requests of a sovereign country not to do what it is entitled to do.
"I hope that implication is wrong. Justice would be better served if Mokbel was tried in Lebanon."
If Mokbel's lawyers are able to get his charges heard in Lebanon he might never return to Australia.
Lebanon almost never allows the extradition of its citizens, and Mokbel is a Lebanese citizen.
He would serve any sentence imposed in Lebanon.
Mokbel's lawyers are believed to have argued to Lebanese authorities they should try Mokbel, as he would never get a fair trial in Australia.
Having the Victorian murder and drug charges heard in Lebanon would present a logistical and security nightmare for federal and Victorian police, as witnesses and prosecutors would probably need to be flown to Lebanon.
Some of the crucial witnesses against Mokbel are serving long jail terms in Victoria and authorities would be loath to allow them out of the country to testify.
They would have to rely on being able to convince Lebanese authorities to allow the unusual step of letting witnesses give evidence from Victoria by video link.
Mr Bagaric could not confirm if Lebanon had lodged an extradition request.
But Lebanon has already informed the international police agency, Interpol, it may apply to have Mokbel extradited to Lebanon.
Greece's Justice Minister would have the final say on whether Mokbel goes to Lebanon or Australia.
Mr Bagaric said he could not confirm or deny any of the legal strategies being used on Mokbel's behalf, as all litigants were entitled to keep such information to themselves.
But he said it would be a fairer and more desirable outcome if Mokbel's Victorian murder and drug charges were heard in Lebanon rather than Australia.
"All along we have asserted that due to the enormous prejudice in the community, fuelled by comments from the Government which demonised Tony, the prospect of getting 12 impartial jurors in Victoria to determine Mokbel's guilt or innocence is about zero," Mr Bagaric said.
"Everyone in Victoria believes that Mokbel is involved in organised crime. It is fanciful to assert to the contrary.
"If he returns to Victoria, due to the over-zealous comments by government officials he cannot get a fair trial."

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