Gun seizure in 2012 led to downfall of Assyrian criminal organisation DLASTHR (The Last Hour)

The Daily Telegraph
EXCLUSIVE mark Morri Crime Editor
Ten weapons seized by Strike Force Evesson from Assyrian crime gangs in 2012. Source: Supplied
POLICE have revealed how a seizure of ten guns from an Assyria gang led to the downfall of the DLASTHR criminal organisation and the arrest of scores of drug-dealing thugs in Southwest Sydney.

Soon after the guns were found and two gang members arrested in early 2012 a secret Strike force aimed at the heart of the Assyrian crime gangs in the area was set up.

Named Evesson, the strike force was a unique and massive intelligence gathering operation done by police at a local level.

“Every detective was given a target or two and told to go out and find as much information about known gang members as possible” said Fairfield crime manager Detective Inspector Martin Hayston said.

The 28 detectives were given two months to come up with intelligence reports on top of their normal duties.

“It was an unusual strategy but we were determined to stop these gangs committing crimes in southwest Sydney. They were also creating the wrong perception of the large Assyrian community here.’’

What emerged from the intelligence-gathering efforts was invaluable information on who was who in the DLASTHR — which reads as The Last Hour — and another major syndicate. Police established how they used special “drug phones’’ for orders to be placed, one for cannabis and another or speed.

Evesson identified 14 major crime targets as the main players, another 31 people were classed as targets of ‘’opportunity’’ to be arrested if possible and another fifty were placed on a “’watch list’’. It found there were up to three separate gangs operating in the area.


Officers with ten weapons seized by Strike Force Evesson from Assyrian crime gangs in 201

Officers with ten weapons seized by Strike Force Evesson from Assyrian crime gangs in 2012. Source: Supplied


Those fourteen most senior and influential members of those gangs were targeted and arrested.

Evesson was set up two years ago after a police surveillance team saw members of an Assyrian crime gang cleaning guns ready for a possible war against a rival drug syndicate.

The young cops watching the two gangsters in a unit at Fairfield were part of a surveillance strike force called Face set up to clean out organised drug dealing by the Assyrian syndicates.

However, when they saw them pull out the guns they realised something more sinister and violent was being planned and police quickly moved in and arrested them.

At the time in January 2012 a police report noted the weapons were in a green canvas bag and the two men “ were recklessly pointing them at each other and simulating firing them.’’

The arrest of Assyrian gang members Oliver Merza and Manowel Khamis and seizure of the weapons led to Strike-forces Everson which broke the back of the Assyrian crime gangs who had been drug running, extorting and murdering around the southwest of Sydney for the past decade.

“Those weapons had been brought in from different members in the group to one location for a reason,’’ said Detective Inspector Hayston.

“We never established exactly why but one theory was they were ready to attack a rival gang or defend themselves from an attack . ’’

Sixteen days earlier a very public shootout in Greenfield Park occurred between two carloads of rival gang members following the alleged theft of a drug phone, drugs and money which was investigated by strike-Force Ronin.


Strike Force Evesson arrests at Wetherill Park.

Strike Force Evesson arrests at Wetherill Park. Source: Supplied



That sparked a spate of violent crimes including kidnappings, assaults and robberies between the two in an attempt to find who shot at who in the Greenfield Park shoot out.

To senior police in southwest Sydney it was obvious these guys were extremely violent gang members willing to shoot to settle scores or intimidate people. Their obsession with gun culture and gang life was fanatical. They tattooed guns on their back, religious symbols on their shoulders and the Fairfield postcode on their legs. Many had the Assyrian flag tattoos as well.

It also found another group, the True Kings had all but self-imploded after members blew themselves up at a methlab and were injured or arrested. Nearly all its other members were shot at sometime last year and found gang life a bit tougher than they expected. Most police write them of as “‘wannabes’’ which are no longer a threat although one of its associates, Dylan Kettlue was shot to death on Australia Day this year.

In September last year the information from Evesson reaped its rewards. More than 300 police raided homes throughout the area and arrested 13 people. In all Strike force Evesson and Ronin resulted in charging of 35 offenders with a total of 163 offences. Most of the 14 major targets and alleged ring leaders in the two most threading gangs have been taken out of play and are in jail still facing criminal charges.

And while the lesser players may be back on the street, many remain leaderless and wary.

Last week three known associates of DLASTHR were arrested finishing the work which began two years ago.

“The gangs and their crime networks have all but been dismantled,’’ said Detective Hayston.


DLASTHR was born out of the demise of The Assyrian Kings, a ruthless street gang made up predominantly of refugees who fled Northern Iraq after the Desert Storm war in 1990 and established themselves in the south-west of Sydney.

It seems no coincidence that soon after many of the DLASTHR’s senior members were arrested one of its founders — Rafel Joesph — went missing, presumed murdered, after a meeting in Auburn on March 20 this year. The gang were in disarray and his power base had vanished, making him vulnerable to other gangsters.

Police believe he was abducted, possibly with a view to extorting his criminal associates into handing over money.

“He had access to millions of dollars,’’ said a NSW police detective.

“His criminal enterprises particularly drug running were very very profitable.’’


Examples of DLASTHR gang members’ tattoos.

Examples of DLASTHR gang members’ tattoos. Source: Supplied


The Iraq-born Joseph was the prime suspect in the 2002 shooting of a man outside a Sefton strip club when he fled Australia for America.

Six years later, when he was arrested for being an illegal immigrant, he begged US authorities not to be sent back to Sydney because there was a contract on his life.

He had been living under a false name for years avoiding both NSW police, Interpol and American authorities.

“We now believe he is dead,’’ said an investigating officer.

“But without a body and his history of vanishing once before it does make it a difficult case.’’

Many of the current batch of DLASTHR come from the second wave of refugees and their families after the second Iraqi war which also coincided with the demise of the Assyrian Kings.

The gang fell apart after its involvement in the brutal murder of a young off-duty policeman, David Carty in Fairfield in 1997.

Police intelligence suggest that for a couple of years after that the crime gangs were mainly




An example of a DLASTHR tattoo.

An example of a DLASTHR tattoo. Source: Supplied

A Strike Force Evesson arrest at Wetherill Park.

A Strike Force Evesson arrest at Wetherill Park. Source: Supplied


localised and disjointed, calling themselves basic names such as the Green Park Boys and Fairfield.

It wasn’t until Joseph, also known as Rafi Toomi got together with some like minded criminals that DLASTHR was born supposedly using the initials of the founders.

The gang embarked on a reign of terror being involved in a number of murders and public shootings as they ruthlessly established themselves as a major drug dealing and distribution syndicate in Sydney.

When arrested in America he told police he was smuggled out of Australia via Turkey, Thailand and Mexico before ending up in San Diego.

After being extradited to Australia, he was charged with the murder of Dimitri Debaz, 28, and spent nearly 18 months in prison before the charges were dropped.


APART from terrorising the streets of Southwest Sydney since the early ‘90s, gangs such as the DLASTHR and the Assyrian Kings have also been on a stain on the reputation of the 40,000-strong Sydney Assyrian community.

“Most Assyrians are Australian citizens who are appalled at what these gangs have done to our reputation,’’ said David David, President of Assyrian Australian Federation.

“We work in with the police and have a fantastic relationship with them. The arrests of these people has done our community a great service.’’

Since the murder of police officer David Carty by a savage street gang known as the Assyrian Kings the community has had to bear the burden of being associated with his murder.

“You never hear about the good things the Assyrian community is involved with,’’ said Mr David.

“There are two private schools in the area and our community is involved in all sorts of professions and charities to help people.’’

Many of those arrested in the recent raids are refuges from Northern Iraqi after the Desert Storm wars in 1990 and 2000.

A lot of the gangs members have religious tattoos next to those of guns and despite their criminal activities have strong links to the Chaldean church, an Eastern Syriac church belonging to the Catholic faith. It comprises an estimated 500,000 people who are ethnic Assyrians indigenous to northern Iraq, and areas bordering it in southeast Turkey, northeast Syria and northwest Iran.


Ten weapons seized by Strike Force Evesson from Assyrian crime gangs in 2012.

Ten weapons seized by Strike Force Evesson from Assyrian crime gangs in 2012. Source: Supplied