Drug farmers sent packing on Con Air flights

 

Cannabis drug farmers and other organised crime figures are among those from Vietnam being deported back to their countries as the Australian Border Force vows it will not let COVID-19 stop the removal of non-citizens from Australia.

The Con Air program saw high security flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth take 38 detainees by charter flight to Ho Chi Minh City. This follows three previous flights during the past two months from those cities, two flights bound for New Zealand and another to the UK with a stop off at Rome to drup off Italian organised crime and other figures.

Of the latest Vietnamese detainees, 14 had overstayed their visas, 24 had their visas cancelled and 10 were deemed high risk.

 

Vietnamese nationals were removed from Australia by charter flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Picture: Australian Border Force
Vietnamese nationals were removed from Australia by charter flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Picture: Australian Border Force

 

It is understood among this motley mob were figures who had been working cannabis plantations of behalf of a Vietnamese organised crime group operating out of NSW

and Queensland to supply drugs along the east seaboard to Victoria and South Australia and even WA.

 

Large-scale industrial grow houses known as igloos housing millions of dollars of cannabis. Picture: NSW Police
Large-scale industrial grow houses known as igloos housing millions of dollars of cannabis. Picture: NSW Police

 

There are many others still in immigration detention waiting to be deported. There are dozens more also in the Federal Court system appealing deportation plans.

ABF Commander Field Operations Ben Biddington said the removal of these non-citizens demonstrated the Australian Border Force's (ABF) continued resolve to remove non-citizens who do not comply with their visa conditions.

 

The latest deportations to Vietnam. Picture: Australian Border Force
The latest deportations to Vietnam. Picture: Australian Border Force

 

"Non-citizens who are found to not meet character requirements, and whose visas are cancelled, are not entitled to remain in Australia," Commander Biddington said. "Non-citizens who are unlawfully in Australia, and who have no entitlement to remain, will be removed".

Removals from Australia would normally occur daily on the next available flights to all destinations, in pre COVID-19 days, but with no regular Qantas and other flights overseas, the ABF has had to charter specific aircraft and collocate all those set to be booted out in Sydney and Perth for mass removal. From now, those to be removed will be grouped together on Christmas Island.

For others from countries further afield, deportation remains a challenge.

 

Australia’s real life Con Air during COVID-19.
Australia’s real life Con Air during COVID-19.

 

The Federal Court in Melbourne was last week prompted to review the parameters of the Croatian War (1991-95) after a 31-year-old Croatian citizen who has lived in Australia since 2003 was ordered out after his visa was cancelled as he did not pass the character test. The man, born to Serbian parents, did not dispute he was of poor character having been arrested on and off since he was 15 years old and jailed repeatedly for aggravated burglary with a weapon, assaults, blackmail and has been in custody since 2014.

But he said since he migrated to Australia, geopolitically Croatia and Serbia had changed and as a Croat born to Serbs he would face discrimination and work and life impediments. He said even his Serbian language accent would place him in a minority position.

"Language and ethnic identity remain highly politicised issues in Croatia, and the applicant's identity as an ethnic Serb is likely to seriously disadvantage him," his lawyers argued.

His appeal however was dismissed as these did not outweigh his lengthy criminal past and his visa was cancelled and he awaits deportation.

Originally published as Drug farmers sent packing on Con Air flights


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