‘Dear brothers of the underworld’: Cartel plots to stem cocaine supply and raise prices

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A cartel of organised criminals including several prominent bikie gangs has ordered cocaine dealers around the nation to freeze supply in a bid to reverse a recent slump in the price of the popular party drug.

Those who break ranks and continue to flood the market with high-quality cocaine face serious consequences, according to leaked internal messages obtained by this masthead which also quote Warren Buffett and Henry Ford.

Images of the leaked messages directing dealers to withhold supply. Credit: The Age

The messages shared on encrypted apps reveal a plan by the cartel to stop the distribution of large shipments of cocaine for the next four weeks to inflate prices and expose overseas traffickers attempting to undercut local suppliers.

The freeze was to begin in Sydney on Friday, while dealers in other states will be expected to curb supply from May 3.

“To my dear brothers of the underworld I need us all to sit back and stop all supply of bricks for four weeks and let me raise the market with a bit of patience,” one message reads.

“I have spoken to all parties and everyone has agreed and is happy to turn off the tap and stop these price wars! As long as we are all playing ball and are on the same page.”

Recent cocaine improtations into Australia.

The cartel then details how the blockade will work. Dealers will be allowed to continue selling ounces and grams to make an income, but bricks of cocaine will be held until the price stabilises above $200,000 per kilogram.

“The ounce people will raise the market for us,” one message reads. “As the supply tightens there [sic] prices will rise from being where we are at now.”

The message, which has been widely distributed among criminal networks, cites famed US industrialist Henry Ford.

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success – Henry Ford” it states.

‘Play ball and keep prices high and dont make mistake and ruin your lifes [sic].’

Tensions over the price of cocaine have simmered in the underworld for months.

They came to a head in October when a cartel founded by jailed bike boss Mark Buddle in 2022, known as The Commission, threatened to go after the families and businesses of Sydney and Melbourne drug dealers who dropped cocaine prices.

“Play ball and keep prices high and dont make mistake and ruin your lifes [sic],” the cartel wrote in a message to dealers, obtained by this masthead.

According to underworld sources, the price of cocaine collapsed earlier this year after a series of successful large importations into Australia flooded the market with the drug.

The late Henry Ford is one of the industrialists quoted in the messages.Credit: File

A source said the quality had not reduced, but “supply is everywhere”.

Police intelligence suggests Albanian crime networks have been flooding the Australian market with cheap cocaine in a bid to control the lucrative trade.

Shipments of cocaine that were bound for Australia but backlogged due to the reduction in air and sea freight during the COVID-19 pandemic could also be to blame for the over supply.

Major law enforcement operations, including the discovery of the largest cocaine shipment in Australia’s history in Western Australia in March, appear to have barely made a dent in the trade.

The use of encrypted apps and trusted insiders continue to be major hurdles for investigators working to disrupt it.

A Melbourne-based underworld source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said prices plummeted by more than $100,000 per kilogram in a single week in March, which sunk the market price below $250,000 per kilogram.

In the messages, the cartel directly points the finger at overseas players for the slump, accusing Albanian, Canadian, South American and British organised crime networks of trying to undercut local dealers.

“You are coming into our country desperate to sell and get a sale, and trying to dictate our market,” one message reads.

US business magnate Warren Buffett is also referred to in the messages.Credit: AP

“What you have done is anger everyone and destroyed our beautiful market that has cornered people to lead to violence and rips.”

State and territory law enforcement agencies have been put on notice for potential acts of violent retribution between distributors and drug dealers in the aftermath of the cartel’s messages.

The Melbourne source scoffed at the idea criminals would maintain solidarity with each other, and told this masthead: “It’s a jungle out there and there is no honour among thieves.

“These guys have watched too many gangsters [in films] and idolise the New York mafia or Al Capone and now are attempting to control a multicultural, volatile, diverse market that has no roots or stems.”

That is a view shared by some law enforcement officers.

“I just can’t see anyone taking any notice, people only notice when extreme violence is involved,” said a police source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Australian Federal Police Detective Superintendent Anthony Conway said bikies had become more entrepreneurial and collaborated with other clubs and crime networks both in Australia and overseas for mutual benefit.

“It demonstrates that despite the historic violent interclub rivalries, outlaw motorcycle gangs are prepared to work together to get their share of Australia’s lucrative drug market,” he said.

“They are sacrificing historical club values to advance their transnational serious and organised crime activities.”

Conway estimated bikies were involved in up to half of the large-scale drug importations to Australia and most of the large clandestine manufacturing labs.

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