Police arrest alleged drugs ‘queenpin’ linked to Assyrian crime gang

Alina Antal, 29, was arrested in Cabramatta in Sydney’s west on Wednesday. Photo: Facebook Ms Antal is accused of being involved in a cannabis supply syndicate. Photo: Facebook
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A woman argues with police as her home is raided in Fairfield Heights. Photo: Nick Moir

A raid in Fairfield on Wednesday morning. Photo: Nick Moir

Oleen Merza, the sister of Oliver Merza, who was charged after police raids. Photo: Nick Moir

With her sleek black blazer, long blonde hair and inner-city office job, Alina Antal did not fit the stereotype of a drug ring director.

But, from within her humble brick home in Sydney’s western suburbs, that is exactly what police allege she was, alongside her on-again-off-again boyfriend, an accused Assyrian gang associate.

While alleged DLASTHR gang figure Oliver Merza, 26, was doing his bit from within Silverwater prison, Ms Antal is accused of directing the operations of a cannabis syndicate.

Among those under her direction were youths, including a 15-year-old boy, police will allege.

On Wednesday morning Ms Antal became one of 10 people arrested in a Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad-led crackdown on Assyrian organised crime in the greater Fairfield area.

Police believe a fierce battle over drug turf in the area has fuelled a string of violent incidents, including shootings, fire-bombings and standover tactics. While tit-for-tat violence between such groups has been largely confined to the south-west area, police suspect it may have crept into other parts of the city.

A luxury Audi Q7 linked to one Assyrian gang target was thought to have been used in the fatal shooting of former bikie Adrian Buxton in Colyton in the north-west suburbs last May.

Police suspect that Audi was in the possession of Antonio Hermiz, 20, who may have been hiding it, before he was killed in a shooting in Wetherill Park last December.

Wednesday’s operation was primarily focused on those allegedly involved in cannabis supply, but was also aimed at disrupting the activities of the organised crime groups that have survived in Sydney for decades.

Just before 7am Ms Antal was handcuffed and walked out of her Cabramatta home while several officers waited to search the property.

The 29-year-old, who is understood to work for a telemarketing firm in the city, was charged with directing a criminal group, recruiting a child to carry out criminal activity, drug supply and other offences.

Police will allege she and Mr Merza directed the group involved in cannabis supply and recruited youths, aged 15 and 17, to help.

Appearing in Liverpool Local Court briefly on Wednesday afternoon, Ms Antal initially indicated she wanted to represent herself in a bail application.

“Your honour, I have no choice,” she said from the dock.

However, after getting advice from Legal Aid Ms Antal opted against applying for bail. She is expected to make an application next week in Campbelltown Local Court.

Mr Merza was charged with similar offences and issued a court attendance notice in prison on Wednesday.

His parents’ house at Fairfield Heights was also raided, with his mother visibly upset at the presence of police in their home.

Despite police alleging Mr Merza has strong ties to DLASTHR, his family deny it, stating the group no longer operates.

“That hasn’t existed since the ’90s,” Mr Merza’s sister, Oleen, told Fairfax Media while police searched her parents’ home on Wednesday. “The members are all doing time in jail or they are out in their 40s, married and with kids. They [police] keep associating these kids with groups like that.

“Our family got here in 1995 and the group died out in 1998. We were in primary school when the group separated.”

She said her brother – who was charged with firearm offences after police found guns at a home he was at last year – had no gang tattoos.

“We understand they [police] are doing their job, but we need someone to turn to as well, and we feel like they are the enemy and we can’t turn to them,” she said.

Ronaldo Odisho, 18, who was shot but survived the shooting in Wetherill Park, was also charged on Wednesday with drug and criminal group offences.