Special police taskforce established to tackle escalating gang violence in NSW

New South Wales police is trying to curb escalating gang violence in Sydney, with 60 officers joining a new taskforce targeting organised crime groups believed to be behind a spate of recent murders.

In the past 18 months 13 people have been killed in suspected gang violence in Sydney’s west and south-west.

Two Comanchero bikies were gunned down at a western Sydney gym on Tuesday night. Omar Zahed, 39, was killed and his brother, Comanchero bikie boss Tarek Zahed, 41, was critically wounded.

The latest shooting happened on Saturday when 23-year-old Rami Iskander – the nephew of slain gangland figure Mahmoud “Brownie” Ahmad – was shot dead at his western Sydney home – the third fatal shooting in recent weeks.

In response, NSW police announced on Monday it will set up taskforce Erebus, which will examine the circumstances and links between recent fatal shootings as well as dozens of acts of violence and the supply of prohibited drugs, illicit firearms, car theft and various other criminal activities.

It brings together Australian Federal Police, detectives in south-west Sydney, the NSW Crime Commission and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Detective chief superintendent Darren Bennett said 60 officers will work full-time in the taskforce, which will coordinate investigations on the latest gangland murders, redoubling efforts to stop more killings taking place.

“It’s not an exact science by any means,” Bennett said on Monday.

Since October, police investigating criminal gangs have arrested 260 people and laid more than 840 charges.

State crime commander assistant commissioner, Mick Fitzgerald, said Erebus would build on leads already gathered “and ensure they have the resources to keep targeting and putting pressure on these criminal groups on all fronts”.

Earlier, the NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, rejected reports that police lacked sufficient resources to crack down on cashed-up underworld gangs.

The government was also working on legislation to focus on unexplained wealth and proceeds of crime, he said.

“I met with police commissioner [Karen] Webb last week, I have complete confidence in the operation they are running right now,” he told Sydney radio 2GB.

“If anyone is involved … in this violence they will be tracked down, they will be locked up,” he said.

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