International cocaine syndicate worth about $11.8 million
IT WAS a multimillion dollar cocaine importation scheme that allegedly started with one Mackay businessman.
At first the alleged plan was to import about 20kg of pure cocaine hidden in oil from South America but this plot soon grew and more people became involved.
Crown prosecutor Glen Rice told Brisbane Supreme Court Mackay mining businessman Markis Scott Turner was the alleged drug syndicate leader who used his mining business as a front to import the oil.
He said the oil contained elements of cocaine and a Colombian national - German Rendon Alvarez, 47 - had planned to extract the cocaine using a chemical process once it reached Australia.
A house at Seaforth had been set up with the needed chemicals for the operation, which allegedly occurred between 2009 and 2011.
Mr Rendon Alvarez and two other Colombian nationals - Juan Pablo Ocampo Alvarez, 29, and Alexis Giovany Gomez Ruiz, 35 - have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the drug operation.
Mr Turner, whose case was also mentioned this week, cannot be located.
The Crown outlined its case during a contested sentence hearing this week for the three men.
Mr Rice said police intercepted the cocaine following an intensive investigation and continuous surveillance, including a listening device placed at Mr Turner's premises in Kilgour St, Mackay.
Officers found 71.6kg of pure cocaine hidden in 17 oil barrels.
The Crown told the court buyers in Melbourne had arranged to buy the cocaine for about $160,000 to $165,000 a kilogram, which would have totalled about $11.8 million.
Mr Rice said Mr Ocampo Alvarez had a large involvement in the operation and regularly liaised with Mr Turner and people in Colombia.
He said Mr Ocampo Alvarez also obtained quotes for oil importation to ensure the business looked legitimate.
Mr Gomez Ruiz became involved further down the track when he told the group he could help.
The three men have pleaded guilty to conspiring to import and traffic commercial quantities of cocaine but they are contesting some of the facts.
The hearing is expected to continue until Friday.
- APN NEWSDESK