News, Culture & Society

How John Ibrahim’s younger brother’s loud mouth led to his downfall

John Ibrahim’s younger brother was exposed as a key player in an international smuggling ring when he was heard in secret recordings telling an associate he had ’50 kegs of coke in Lebanon’.   

Michael Ibrahim, 40, gave police what they’d been waiting for when he confessed he had overseas drug contacts to an undercover agent on November 14, 2017.  

The 40-year-old’s confession took 18 months of work by the operative, who went under the assumed name Joe Smith*, The Daily Telegraph reported.    

Michael Ibrahim, 40 (pictured top with his brother John right), gave police what they’d been waiting for, when he confessed he had access to overseas drugs to an undercover agent

Michael Ibrahim (pictured right with his brother John left) eventually confessed after 18 months of work by the operative, who went under an assumed name

Michael Ibrahim (pictured right with his brother John left) eventually confessed after 18 months of work by the operative, who went under an assumed name

Every day the agent would ‘clock on’ for his shift by recording a unique monotonous message into his concealed recording device.

This daily ritual resulted in more than 150 recordings, including the conversation with Michael Ibrahim, which ultimately led to his downfall. 

A team of police officers, who were listening in to every conversation, kept track of their man and the intricate international smuggling ring he was masterminding. 

Ibrahim would eventually sign his own arrest warrant when he told the wire-wearing operative he knew people who could organise the international shipment of drugs.  

The conversation, which included Smith, Ibrahim and his friend and business associate Ryan Watsford, took place just before 9pm on November 14, 2017. 

Ibrahim was recorded asking the operative whether he wanted him to organise a container, to which Smith replied ‘Just let me talk to my guys first’.   

Watford was then heard asking whether it was easy for him to ‘get stuff in’. 

‘Listen, I’ve got f**ken 50 litres and 50 kegs of coke in Lebanon,’ Ibrahim added. 

The trio were then recorded talking about how much money could be made from the potential shipment being discussed, which included an up front fee of $50K.

Watford then switched the conversation subject to that of importing cigarettes, implicating Ibrahim and his overseas contacts.  

Michael Ibrahim (pictured right) told the undercover agent he trusted him and would introduce him to his overseas contact, so they could discuss the transaction in detail

Michael Ibrahim (pictured right) told the undercover agent he trusted him and would introduce him to his overseas contact, so they could discuss the transaction in detail

Every day the agent would 'clock on' for his shift by recording a unique monotonous message into his concealed recording device (stock image)

Every day the agent would ‘clock on’ for his shift by recording a unique monotonous message into his concealed recording device (stock image)

‘You know what we should do now is press ahead with the cigarette thing with Michael’s contacts. Cause that’s f***king massive,’ Watford said.

Ibrahim then confirmed he had an overseas contact to the undercover agent by referring to a guy who had 25 grand for a container in China.

Smith then questioned Ibrahim about his contact having connections in the Middle East, to which he replied: ‘He’s got connections everywhere’.

Ibrahim told the agent he trusted him and would introduce him to his overseas contact, so they could discuss the transaction in detail.

‘Meet him … Lebanon ready. As soon as you tell me ”yep, this is the company, this is what you’ve got to do” I’ll go,’ Ibrahim said. 

Smith then told the 40-year-old whatever they needed he could provide.    

Armed with only his recording device, Smith eventually brought down more than 20 people included in the racket, including several key bosses in the illegal drug trade.

The conversation, which included Smith, Ibrahim (pictured left with John, back, and Fadi Ibrahim, right) and his and business associate Ryan Watsford, took place just before 9pm on November 14, 2017

The conversation, which included Smith, Ibrahim (pictured left with John, back, and Fadi Ibrahim, right) and his and business associate Ryan Watsford, took place just before 9pm on November 14, 2017

A team of police officers, who were listening in to every conversation, kept track of their man and the intricate international smuggling ring he was masterminding

A team of police officers, who were listening in to every conversation, kept track of their man and the intricate international smuggling ring he was masterminding

Details of the recording comes after Ibrahim pleaded guilty to being the man behind the international crime racket on Tuesday, facing Sydney’s Central Local Court. 

Operation Veyda was launched in March 2016, with the sole purpose of bringing Michael Ibrahim and his family friend and business associate Ryan Watsford to justice.

Six months later, Watsford would lead the operative – who was given the pseudonym for safety – to Michael Ibrahim and eventually convince him to vouch for the officer as being ‘like a brother’.

But before that, Smith had to work over Watsford.

The pair made contact in June 2016, when they would meet up to discuss international money laundering techniques and services Smith could provide.

Watsford found the operative to be a charming, professional smuggler and money-launderer with a secret method that promised containers full of drugs and cigarettes snuck past border security, The Sunday Telegraph previously reported.

Michael Ibrahim, 40, pleaded guilty to being the man behind an international crime racket on Tuesday, facing Sydney's Central Local Court.

Michael Ibrahim, 40, pleaded guilty to being the man behind an international crime racket on Tuesday, facing Sydney’s Central Local Court.

Michael Ibrahim

Ryan Watsford

Operation Veyda was launched in March 2016, with the sole purpose of bringing Michael Ibrahim (left)  and his business associate Ryan Watsford (right) to justice 

After building trust with Watsford, Smith was eventually introduced to Ibrahim at the Sheraton on the Park hotel in Sydney later that year.  

Smith would go on to infiltrate Michael’s drug and tobacco smuggling syndicate, helping them bring tonnes of cigarettes into the country.  

What followed was months of negotiations, with the undercover operative slowly convincing the crew that he was a legitimate supplier with serious contacts.

‘I vouch for you like I’ve known you all my life,’ Michael told the police operative at one point, according to the Daily Telegraph. ‘That’s what you got to understand. It falls on my head, because I sit there and vouch for you.’ 

On another occasion, when asked if he trusted Smith by a member of the drug syndicate, Michael Ibrahim replied: ‘100 per cent… he’s my mate.’ 

It was eventually that trust that would be Michael’s downfall.  

Michael (right) was one of 20 men arrested in a series of police raids in Sydney and Dubai last year, and was charged with a plot to import 900,000 packets of cigarettes, 1.9 tonnes of the drug ecstasy and 15kg of meth

Michael (right) was one of 20 men arrested in a series of police raids in Sydney and Dubai last year, and was charged with a plot to import 900,000 packets of cigarettes, 1.9 tonnes of the drug ecstasy and 15kg of meth

Michael was one of 20 men arrested in a series of police raids in Sydney and Dubai last year, and was charged with a plot to import 900,000 packets of cigarettes, 1.9 tonnes of the drug ecstasy and 15kg of meth.

The 40-year-old will return to court in January for sentencing after pleading guilty to his role in the syndicate. 

The case against him relied heavily on the undercover agent’s 150-plus secret recordings, which exposed his involvement in the ring. 

John Ibrahim, the more well-known brother, is not facing any charges and there is no suggestion he has committed any offences. 

* The pseudonym used by the undercover operative was changed by the publication in order to comply with court orders.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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