Two Australian men jailed in connection to Californian ice seizure worth more than $255 million

Two Australian men have been jailed over the 2017 seizure of 272 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in California.

The pair, now aged 75 and 61, and an alleged accomplice were arrested in Australia in July 2017 following a joint investigation between the AFP and the United States (US) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Police alleged in court that the ice seized was destined to be imported into Australia in a light aircraft and would have had an estimated value of more than $255 million if it had reached Australian streets.

The joint investigation began in early 2017 and identified three men in Australia involved in a conspiracy to smuggle illicit drugs from California to Australia.

On 15 June 2017, agents from the DEA Santa Rosa Resident Office conducted a search warrant on a storage facility in Northern California and allegedly found 272 kilograms of methamphetamine. The substance was seized, and investigations into the three men continued in Australia and the US.

In the following weeks, the AFP arrested the three men in Australia who were, at that point, allegedly arranging the transportation of the drugs into the country.

In addition to the two men sentenced yesterday, a third man – 55-year-old Jim Soukoulis – arrested in July 2017 was also charged over the conspiracy to import the drugs.

He was released on bail in November 2017 to live at an address in South Melbourne while awaiting trial but allegedly later absconded.

He is currently considered a fugitive and warrants for his arrest remain active.

The 75-year-old man was yesterday (20 April 2021) sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment by the Melbourne County Court after earlier pleading guilty to conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely methamphetamine.

He will need to serve eight years and six months’ behind bars before he becomes eligible for parole.

The 61-year-old man was yesterday (20 April 2021) sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment by the Melbourne County Court.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely methamphetamine, and aiding and abetting another individual in the trafficking of marketable quantities of controlled drugs, namely cocaine and methamphetamine.

He will need to serve 11 years before being eligible for parole.

Fresh calls in the hunt for alleged fugitive Jim SOUKOULIS

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has renewed calls for public assistance to help locate a Sydney man due to face trial for planning to import more than 250 kilograms of methamphetamine into Australia.

Soukoulis has lived in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne and has family connections in Greece. He also frequently travelled to Thailand.

He is 180cm tall, with a medium build, olive complexion, short grey hair and wears reading glasses. He has distinctive tattoos, including a Capricorn star sign on his left chest, a Taurus bull on his right chest and Greek mythology figure Medusa on his back.

Once located, Soukoulis is due to face trial for the following charges:

  • Conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.1 and section 11.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • Deal with an instrument of crime – money worth $1,000,000 or more, contrary to section 400.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • Deal with an instrument of crime – money worth $50,000 or more, contrary to section 400.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

He is also facing the following charge from a separate 2013 matter (which was proceeding through court at the time of his disappearance):

  • Traffic a marketable quantity of controlled drugs, namely cocaine and methamphetamine, contrary to section 302.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Previous media statements relating to the search for Jim Soukoulis can be found on the AFP website.

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