Two men involved in the importation of more than four tonnes of ecstasy hidden in tomato tins have been sentenced to more than 10 years in jail.
Customs officers at the Port of Melbourne intercepted the ecstasy in the form of 15 million tablets hidden in 3,000 tins arriving from Naples, Italy, in 2007.
The drugs, found packed in a shipping container, weighed more than 4.4 tonnes and had an estimated street value of $122 million.
It was the largest haul of ecstasy in the world at the time of the seizure.
In 2012 the drug ring’s leader Pasquale Barbaro was sentenced to life in prison.
South Australian Carmelo Falanga, 49, was today sentenced to 23 years in prison with a minimum sentence of 16 years and six months.
Jon Visser, 63, of New South Wales, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison with a minimum eight years.
Trio jailed over world’s biggest ecstasy haul
Jailed drug smugglers (L-R) Salvatore Agresta, John Higgs, and Pasquale Sergi.
Three men have been jailed over their attempt to smuggle the world’s biggest haul of ecstasy into Australia.
A Victorian Supreme Court jury found the trio guilty of conspiring to smuggle more than 15 million ecstasy tablets into Australia from Italy in 2007.
The drugs weighed more than 4.4 tonnes, had an estimated street value of $122 million and were hidden inside tomato tins.
At the time of the seizure, it was the largest haul of ecstasy in the world.
Pasquale Sergi, Salvatore Agresta and John Higgs were sentenced to a combined total of 40 years in jail.
“You were all involved in a crime in which every one was playing for the highest stakes we have ever known in this country,” Justice Betty King said.
“That of obtaining possession of 15 million plus tablets of ecstasy
“You must have all been aware of the risk and the consequences of [your] involvement.
“You chose to take that risk and now you must all bear the consequences.”
Higgs, 65, who has a criminal history including a conviction for manslaughter, was sentenced to 18 years in jail with a non-parole period of 14 years.
Agresta, 44, who ran an Ascot Vale Deli where gangland identity Des Moran was shot dead in 2009, was sentenced to 12 years in jail to serve at least 8 years.
Sergi, 49, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, to serve a minimum 6 years and 9 months.
A fourth man who can not be named has also been jailed over the conspiracy.
The two ringleaders, New South Wales men Pasquale Barbaro and Saverio Zirilli, have already been jailed.
Drug dealer sentenced to life for world’s largest ecstasy haul
It can now be revealed that drug king-pin Pasquale Barbaro, of Griffith, in New South Wales, is serving a life sentence for importing the world’s biggest ecstasy haul into Australia.
A suppression order on the sentence was lifted today, after a jury found four of his co-accused guilty of conspiracy to possess a commercial quantity of MDMA.
Barbaro, 50, originally of Griffith, in NSW, pleaded guilty to charges including the importation of 15 million ecstasy tablets.
The drugs, which were estimated to be worth at least $122 million, were hidden in cans labelled as “peeled tomatoes” from Italy.
Barbaro will serve a minimum term of 30 years in jail.
In sentencing, Justice King said he was at the top of a “very well organised worldwide criminal group”.
“You, Pasquale Barbaro were at the apex of that criminality, at the very top of the tree in this country,” she said.
“Your purpose in attempting to possess the goods was to ensure financial riches of a quite astronomical order.”
Barbaro’s co-accused, Saverio Zirilli, 55, was sentenced to 26 years in jail with a minimum of 18 years.
Both men were also convicted of attempted possession of nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine, hidden in bags of Columbian coffee beans.
Four others have been found guilty of one count each of conspiracy to possess a commercial quantity of MDMA.
Ecstasy life sentence appeal rejected
A man who was involved in Australia’s biggest ecstasy haul has failed to have his sentence reduced by Victoria’s Court of Appeal.
Pasquale Barbaro was charged after millions of ecstasy tablets hidden in tomato cans, were intercepted by Australian Federal Police in 2008.
Barbaro was given a life term in February with a non-parole period of 30 years, but appealed against the severity of the sentence.
The appeal was rejected last month, and can be reported now because a non-publication order has been lifted.