Perth man jailed for 10 years over $2.7m drug plots

A man, 29, described as a trusted member of a well-organised transnational drug trafficking syndicate has been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment over two drug importations.

He was sentenced by the Western Australia District Court on Thursday (30 June 2022) after pleading guilty to helping to facilitate the importations of cocaine worth about $1.2 million and about $1.5 million worth of ketamine.

AFP investigators arrested the man last June (2021) after an investigation that started earlier that month when Australian Border Force (ABF) officers found 3.99 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a package of purses sent from the United Kingdom.

The drugs were removed by the AFP before the packages were delivered to a Willagee home. Another man allegedly opened the packages and sent images of the contents to the 29-year-old, who is from the Perth suburb of Southern River.

Messages retrieved from an encrypted app on the Southern River man’s phone, as well as on other devices seized by police, showed he communicated with members of the syndicate in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Australia.

The AFP provided information from those messages to WA Police Force officers, who verified his involvement in the importation of 4.8 kilograms of ketamine that was intercepted by ABF in May (2021).

The man organised where the drug consignments should be delivered, tracked the packages and also recruited and coordinated other people to collect and deliver the drugs after they arrived in Perth from overseas to avoid detection.

AFP Leading Senior Constable Jason Craig said evidence showed the man had a significant role in the trafficking syndicate and had been motivated by financial gain.

“Illicit drugs cause immense harm in our communities but the people involved in this trade care only about the money they are trying to make,” he said.

“This case shows the AFP is working closely with our partners to stop drugs from reaching our streets and prosecute those who try to profit at the public’s expense.”

Australian Border Force Commander Operations West, James Copeman, said the ABF would continue to make it as difficult as possible for criminal syndicates to illegally import narcotics into Australia.

“The ABF has significant skills, technological capability and targeting methods when it comes to detecting drugs at the border,” Commander Copeman said.

“Those who choose to be involved in this kind of activity can expect their illicit goods to be detected and stopped at the border.”

The man, a New Zealand national, was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment, with a four-year non-parole period, for the Commonwealth offence of procuring another person to attempt to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely cocaine, contrary to section 307.5(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

He was sentenced to another six years’ imprisonment, with a four year non-parole period, for attempting to possess a prohibited drug, namely ketamine, with intent to sell or supply it to another.

The Judge ordered that the Commonwealth sentence start after the man has served three years of his state sentence, less one day already served in custody.

The total effective sentence is 10 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of six years and 364 days.

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