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Australia Five men guilty, 79 years' jail over two tonnes of drugs worth $1 billion

20:46  24 march  2020
20:46  24 march  2020 Source:   smh.com.au

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Scales of justice. © AAP Image/Dave Hunt Scales of justice. The last of five men sentenced over their role in one of Australia's largest drug importations has been ordered to serve 16 years' jail.

Between them, the five men received a total of 79 years for their roles in attempting to import two tonnes of ice and ecstasy worth around $1 billion that was intercepted by police in a container containing household goods from Germany in November 2014.

Mehmet Ozgen, who was 23 at the time of the bust and is now 30, will serve at least 10 years of a 16-year sentence before he is eligible for parole.

At a sentencing hearing in February, Judge John Pickering said: "I don't think you can underplay the significance of Ozgen's role."

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It was Ozgen's BlackBerry device, seized at the time of the bust at a Smithfield industrial unit, that gave up key details of the Crown case against the "unpacking crew".

Federal police sent the BlackBerry to their Canadian counterparts who cracked the passcode "moneymoney!" and found a trove of messages and key players belonging to the local operation, under names including SoRich, FatHorse and Rock.

Of seven Sydney men charged over the unpacking, three pleaded guilty and four went to trial where two were found guilty.

The sentences for the guilty are stark: five men, 79 years total in jail, for two tonnes of drugs.

Akuila Bisasa and Rene Arancibia who pleaded guilty and were described by the trial judge as trusted organisers of the unpacking crew, were jailed for 16 years and will serve at least 11 before they are eligible for parole.

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Joshua Hamlin, who joined the conspiracy the day of the bust after a failed attempt to access the container the previous day, also pleaded guilty and was jailed for 11 years, to serve at least seven.

Jason Drollet, who originally pleaded not guilty but then changed his plea and was found guilty at trial, received a 20-year sentence having already been jailed for three years non-parole in 2009 over charges relating to the importation of six kilograms of cocaine.

The five-year head sentence on Drollet's prior conviction only expired shortly before he was again arrested on charges related to drug importation.

Another alleged member Solomone Vukici faces a retrial after a jury was unable to agree on a verdict.

Another man, Philip Ian Bishop was found not guilty. At Ozgen's February sentencing hearing, Judge Pickering questioned the charge brought against Mr Bishop at trial, criticising the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

"I don't think Bishop is innocent of a criminal offence," Judge Pickering said.

Sentencing hearings have heard that another man, Savas Guven, also known as Savas Yucel, who has been charged over the importation, is considered a "key" figure. He is yet to face trial.

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