VIPER Taskforce striking at the heart of organised crime

A NEW taskforce designed to fight serious and organised crime at all levels has averaged an arrest per day and seized in excess of 60 guns in the first 12 months of operation.

Unveiled on Monday July 4, 2022, the tactical unit – the first of its kind in Victoria – was launched as Victoria Police’s new approach in the fight against criminal entities with the flexibility to be deployed anywhere in the state at short notice.

In that time, the taskforce has conducted more than 80 regional deployments to almost every corner of the state.

The 80-strong innovative unit combines police from a wide range of specialist roles, including Public Order Response Team (PORT), State Highway Patrol, general duties, intelligence officers and detectives from a wide range of backgrounds, including the Armed Crime Squad, Homicide Squad, Echo Taskforce, Criminal Proceeds Squad, Major Drug Squad, Clandestine Laboratory Squad, Gang Crime Squad and various others.

Using this diverse mix of specialist skills and experience, VIPER has processed 342 offenders and issued 1372 charges in its first year.

In the first 12 months of operation, VIPER has also:

  • Conducted more than 560 Firearm Prohibition Order searches and served a further 37;
  • Seized more than $1.4 million in cash;
  • Seized 81 firearms and imitation firearms, as well as 119 prohibited weapons;
  • Made more than 789 seizures of illicit drugs of varying quantities and types, and;
  • Intercepted in excess of 1700 vehicles and impounded 66.

With the workforce rotating in every six or 12 months, more than 160 members of Victoria Police have now donned the VIPER patch.

Utilising the highly diverse range of experience and expertise of members force-wide, allows for both proactive and reactive investigations which target organised crime from every angle and their every activity.

The VIPER Taskforce is a tactical and investigative unit based within Crime Command focused on preventing, detecting, deterring, disrupting and dismantling the criminal activities of groups such as outlaw motorcycle gangs, organised crime networks and street gangs. VIPER is an acronym for Visibility, Intelligence, Prevention, Enforcement and Reassurance.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Bob Hill, Public Safety and Security said that VIPER is now a fundamental part of police’s business model to tackle serious and organised crime.

“This has been one of the most significant moves against organised crime syndicates in the history of Victoria Police and the results speak for themselves,” he said.

“We know that the presence of VIPER in regional areas has led to a change in the mindset of local criminals who previously thought they were out of reach of our specialist police units.

“Our regional police colleagues are now regularly supported by the VIPER Taskforce and other Crime Command squads to disrupt and deter criminal activity.

“Over the past 12 months, the VIPER Taskforce has deployed to all parts of metropolitan Melbourne and rural Victoria where our members are regularly being told by criminal targets, ‘We were wondering when you might show up’.”