EPS assists Australian police in extortion case involving Iraqi MP
Edmonton police collaborated with Australian Federal Police and New South Wales Police to arrest four people involved in an alleged extortion scheme.
EDMONTON -- Four people, including two Edmontonians, have been arrested as a result of a collaborative international investigation into what police say saw a criminal group attempt to extort a member of Iraqi Parliament in Australia.
According to Australian police, the investigation stemmed from an armed home invasion in December 2019 in Sydney, Australia, when four masked people broke in, assaulted a 16-year-old and made off with cash.
Following that incident, it's alleged the residents of the home continued to be targets of violence and extortion over social media and letters left at the house.
Australian police say they learned that the alleged online extortion attempts had links to Edmonton and sent an INTERPOL request to the EPS Cyber Crimes Unit to assist with the investigation.
In a simultaneous and coordinated effort that spanned two continents, Edmonton police arrested a man and a woman Tuesday, while Australian police were arresting two men.
Ghazi Shanta, 33, and Diana Kadri, 32, were arrested at two separate addresses in the Crystallina Nera area of northeast Edmonton.
Both have been charged with extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.
Electronic devices were seized from one of the locations, along with an imitation firearm.
Two men, aged 24 and 22, were also arrested by New South Wales Police in Australia, as part of the investigation and now face multiple charges.
“With the immediacy of today’s communication tools, it was critical for us to collaborate with Australian police to make simultaneous arrests on opposite sides of the planet,” Det. Phil Hawkins with EPS Cyber Crime Investigations Unit said in a news release.
“The search warrants were executed seamlessly, and together, we were able to bring four suspects in two countries into custody without incident.”
Charges to the two men arrested in Australia include participating in a criminal group, demanding property by force and sending a document threatening death or grievous bodily harm.
Those men were denied bail and will appear at Blacktown Local Court in Australia Thursday.