Five people have been charged in a major development during the search for Sydney model Revelle Balmain after she disappeared 27 years ago.
NSW Police allege they have uncovered a Serbian organised crime syndicate as part of the reinvestigation into the 1994 disappearance of the model.
Five people have been charged with unrelated offences just days after police announced the new forensic search.
Ms Balmain was just 22 when she disappeared from the Kingsford area on November 5, 1994. The young model’s make-up bag, keys and a shoe were later found scattered near Ainslie St.
She was reported missing that same evening and has not been seen or heard from since.
A coronial inquest in 1999 found Ms Balmain died at the hands of a person or persons unknown, with the matter then being referred to the unsolved homicide unit.
A fresh search was announced to find Ms Balmain earlier this week, with police revealing they charged five men after dismantling the alleged syndicate, accused of growing cannabis and the co-ordinated theft and sale of luxury goods.
Officers executed search warrants at four properties of interest at Maroubra and Randwick and a crime scene warrant at a property at Surry Hills on Thursday.
During the search officers found indoor hydroponic cannabis setups at three Randwick units with a total of 102 cannabis plants and 8kg of dried cannabis. The estimated potential street value is more than $400,000.
At Maroubra, police uncovered an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of suspected stolen luxury goods, including designer handbags, clothing, shoes and watches, as well as high-end wine and spirits.
The estimated potential street value is more than $150,000.
Five men aged between 50 and 65 were arrested and taken to Surry Hills Police Station.
All five men were refused bail and are due to face court on Friday.
Strike Force Aramac are continuing their investigations into Ms Balmain’s disappearance.
A $1 million NSW Government reward remains in place for information that leads to the arrest and conviction to people responsible for her suspected murder or information relating to the location of her remains.
While police have continuously investigated over the years, no one has been charged in relation to the woman’s disappearance. It’s not suggested any of the five men arrested had anything to do with Ms Balmain’s disappearance.
Strike Force Aramac lead investigator Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Bell on Tuesday said police were reviewing all previous evidence.
“This includes whether Revelle was scheduled to meet with any individuals – clients, friends or associates – previously unknown to police on the evening of her disappearance,” Inspector Bell said.
“The locations that are being searched today will be subject to an extensive forensic examination by specialist officers.
“We are now exploring a new line of inquiry and believe these locations are of significance and will help us progress the investigation.”
Inspector Bell said police were “exploring all avenues”.
“I want finalisation for the family,” he said.
Inspector Bell is urging anyone with information to contact police so he can provide the answers to Ms Balmain’s family.
A date for the new coronial inquest has not been set, but it is expected to begin in the second half of 2022.
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