Crime ringleader nabbed in Operation Red Gum
By ZOE SINCLAIRzoe@gladstoneobserver.com.au
SIX months of hard work by Calliope and Gladstone police has netted one of the region's worst criminals.
Operation Red Gum came to a close recently when a local crime syndicate's ringleader was jailed for two years.
Constable Wayne Butcher, Sergeant Mick Despot and Senior Constable Paul Foley were celebrating the outcome of the six-month operation.
Sixty car break-ins at the Gladstone Marina in December last year gave police their best lead on the local crime syndicate, particularly the main suspect.
Sgt Despot said the 26-year-old man came to the attention of police as a "major problem'' some years ago.
Const Butcher, who was working in CIB at the time, said a stolen cheque book which was used in Gladstone provided investigators with more evidence pointing to the man.
The operation came to a climax when Calliope police intercepted him after he turned on to the Dawson Highway and threw something from the vehicle. Police made the link between the money that was thrown from the vehicle and the break-in they were investigating at the time.
After months of frustrating interviews and phone calls, police finally had the evidence they needed.
In all, Operation Red Gum uncovered a crime syndicate of five offenders, totalling 174 charges between them. The main suspect was sentenced at the end of July to serve two years jail.
Sgt Despot said the man's sentencing had put a significant dent in the region's crime statistics and Gladstone and Calliope residents could breathe a sigh of relief.
'It's like a grand final from a police point of view ? he was our major crime problem ? and we've done our job and that's finished now,' Sgt Despot said.
'We're really happy for the community.'