Australia 'Brazen': Two men sentenced to 16 years' jail over massive drug haul
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Two men who pleaded guilty over their roles in one of the country’s biggest ever drug hauls have been jailed for at least 11 years and six months with another jailed for more than seven years.
Sydney men Akuila Bisasa, Rene Arancibia and Joshua Hamlin, all 39, were arrested in 2014 attempting to access around two tonnes of methylamphetamine (ice) and MDMA (ecstasy) imported in a shipping container from Germany.
The drugs had a street value of nearly $1.5 billion.
In sentencing the men in the District Court on Tuesday, Judge John Pickering described the attempted importation as “brazen”, acknowledging he struggled to find judgments for similar sized importations.
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“Even if you knew nothing about drugs and importation, to be aware that the size of this importation involved 1.38 tonnes of pure MDMA and 630kg of pure methamphetamine would let you know this was an extraordinary amount of drugs imported into Australia," he said.
“If one tries to review ... first instances judgements you will struggle to find a similar type of case that will involve this amount of drugs,” he said.
Sentencing Bisasa and Arancibia each to 16 years jail, Judge Pickering discounted their sentence by 25 per cent for pleading guilty. Taking into account time on remand, they will be eligible for parole in 2028.
Hamlin, who only joined the criminal enterprise the day the unpacking crew accessed the container, received a lesser sentence and a discount for pleading guilty. His headline sentence was 11 years three months. With time served and a discount for a guilty plea he will be eligible for parole in 2024.
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Four other men pleaded not guilty over their roles in the operation and faced trial this year.
A jury found Philip Bishop, an executive at the shipping company where the container was accessed, not guilty. Two, Mehmet Ozgen and Jason Drollet, were found guilty and await sentence. The jury could not reach a verdict for Solomone Vukici who faces retrial next year.
The Judge praised Bisasa, Hamlin and Arancibia for taking an early guilty plea.
“Unlike Ozgen or Drollet who have shown no remorse or responsibility of what they have done, each of these has shown genuine remorse and accepted genuine responsibility for what they have done,” Judge Pickering said.
He did not accept Bisasa and Arancibia were unaware of details of the plan, citing their roles as supervisors, organising boxes and clothing to replace the goods removed from the container, and being in contact via BlackBerry with an alleged key player using the pseudonym “Roc”.
Melbourne club pair facing drugs charges in Bali moved to prison
Two Melbourne nightclub figures facing drug charges in Bali have been moved to a prison ahead of their trial. The move means Will Cabantog and David Van Iersal are a step closer to knowing their fates.Three and a half months after their arrests, the former Melbourne nightclub promoters have been moved from their holding cell at Denpasar police station to Kerobokan prison, with their trial to be heard in coming weeks.© Nine The pair were arrested in a police sting targeting a suspected cocaine trafficking ring, but ended up being charged only with possession with just over a gram of the drug seized.
The Crown identified Roc in a sentencing hearing for Bisasa, Hamlin and Arancibia earlier this year as the Mosman property developer Savas Guven, also known as Savas Yucel.
Mr Guven faces trial next year over his alleged role in three drug importations and money laundering.
The Judge acknowledged the ‘tragedy’ of Hamlin’s case, noting he was not even part of the conspiracy during a failed attempt to access the drugs a day before the bust.
“Had it been successful that day he may not be sitting here as no evidence he was involved for planning that day. That’s a tragedy for Mr Hamlin.”
The judge noted that Hamlin, Bisasa, Vukici and Drollet were all rugby friends. While it is unknown who recruited Hamlin to the enterprise, the Judge said whoever that was should share some guilt over the outcome for their friend.
Ozgen will be sentenced on Thursday.
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