Two men jailed for importing $122 million worth of ecstasy from Italy in tomato tins

The drugs were found packed in more than 3,000 tomato tins.

The drugs were found packed in more than 3,000 tomato tins. (Australian Customs)

Related Story: Trio jailed over world’s biggest ecstasy haul

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

Updated Wed 1 May 2013, 8:15am

Trio jailed over 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

Updated Fri 25 May 2012, 9:05am AEST

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

Posted Thu 20 Dec 2012, 4:40pm AEDT

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.

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Police raid Box Hill property and seize $15m worth of drugs

Detectives from the Drug Squad have seized more than $15 million worth of illicit drugs,

Detectives from the Drug Squad have seized more than $15 million worth of illicit drugs, arrested two men and shut down a large clandestine laboratory. Photo courtesy of NSW Police. Source: Supplied

More than $15 million worth of drugs, including 70,000 MDMA tablets, have been seized after police uncovered a clandestine lab in Sydney.

Detectives stopped a car on Wednesday in Box Hill, north west of Sydney, and arrested two men, a 35-year-old from Bondi and 24-year-old from Cranebrook.

Police raided a nearby property and allegedly uncovered a large scale drug lab and one kilogram of the drug ice.

Detectives from the Drug Squad have seized more than $15 million worth of illicit drugs,

Detectives from the Drug Squad have seized more than $15 million worth of illicit drugs, arrested two men and shut down a large clandestine laboratory following an operation in Sydney on Wednesday and Thursday (2 and 3 July 2014). Photo courtesy of NSW Police. Source: Supplied

Three litres of methylamphetamine oil and more then 200 items used to make ice and MDMA was also found.

Hours later another raid was carried out at a Bondi unit, where police allegedly found 70,000 tablets believed to be MDMA, weighing in at about 17 kilograms.

Officers also found 4kg of MDMA powder, more than 4kg of ice and a ballistics vest in the beachside suburb unit.

Drugs seized following a raid in Box Hill. Photo courtesy of NSW Police.

Drugs seized following a raid in Box Hill. Photo courtesy of NSW Police

Police believe the total potential street value of the drugs is about $15 million.

Both men have been charged with a drug manufacturing, and the Bondi man is also facing drug supply offences.

This year alone NSW police have shut down 44 drug labs.

Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke said officers involved in the major drug haul had been working around the clock.

“That hard work has now been rewarded with a significant quantity of drugs not making it to the street,” the drug squad commander said.

“We will continue to do everything we can to stop illicit drug syndicates profiting at the community’s loss but members of the public need to continue playing their part too.” Both men were refused bail in Parramatta Local Court on Thursday, and will appear in Central Local Court on August 28.

Police uncovered a clandestine drug lab in Box Hill. Photo courtesy of NSW Police.

Police uncovered a clandestine drug lab in Box Hill. Photo courtesy of NSW Police.

Five charged after meth valued at $180 million found in kayaks

February 12, 2014

POLICE have charged five people in Sydney over the importation of an estimated $180 million worth of methamphetamine concealed inside kayaks sent from China.

Customs allegedly found about 183kg of the illegal drug on Wednesday last week after X-raying 27 kayaks that had entered Australia.

The tests showed 19 of the kayaks contained packages with methamphetamine inside.

Concealed ... one of the imported kayaks carrying the meth into Australia.

Concealed … one of the imported kayaks carrying the meth into Australia.

Australian Federal Police on Tuesday allowed the kayaks to be delivered to a Sydney storage facility, where they arrested four Taiwanese nationals.

Three of the men, aged 21, 30 and 35, were charged with possessing a commercial quantity of drugs and the fourth, a 28-year-old woman, was charged with drug importation.

Police later arrested a 32-year-old Kensington man at his home and charged him with attempting to import the drugs.

Customs regional director Tim Fitzgerald said the 183kg of crystal meth was found in watertight areas inside the kayaks.

There were also a number of life jackets inside the boats that may have been put there to misdirect the attention of any searches, he added.

“It’s fair to say that any item coming into Australia can be used to hide narcotics,’’ he told reporters in Sydney today.

“Previously through airports, we’ve seen narcotics concealed inside surfboards.”

Mr Fitzgerald said that in the past 14 months, Customs had found more than 1000kg of meth in liquid and crystal form.

He said the drug was a “significant problem’’ for border protection authorities and a significant amount came from China.

Australian Federal Police Sydney manager Ray Johnson said people accused of drug hauls of the amount found in the kayaks could expect to face around 15 years in jail if found guilty.

The kayaks were inspected at the Sydney Container Examination Facility.

David John Alton, 32, who was charged with importing a commercial quantity of drugs, appeared before Sydney’s Central Local Court today and was refused bail.

The matter was adjourned until April 9 before the same court.

Meng-Chih Shih, 30, Zhao Xiung Huang, 35, and Chien Khih Kuo, 21, also appeared before Central Local Court today and had their bail formally refused.

Court documents show the men resided in the same Sydney CBD address.

Chieh-Wei Lin, 28, from another Sydney CBD address, also had her bail refused.

They are all due to return to court on April 9.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison today congratulated Customs for preventing the methamphetamine from reaching the streets.

He said the Federal Government had provided $88 million of additional funding to Customs to increase screening of international mail, air cargo and sea cargo to stop illegal firearms and drugs getting in.

“Inspection rates of international mail and air cargo will increase by 25 and 33 per cent respectively and the examination of sea cargo in the major ports of Sydney and Melbourne will increase by nearly 20 per cent,’’ the minister said in a statement.

That would result in an additional 1500 containers being physically examined by Customs officers, he said.



Comanchero Jock Ross visits memorial 28 years after Milperra Massacre

The Milperra Massacre between the Bandidos and Comacheros took place back in 1984. The Comanchero founder JOCK ROSS AND HIS wife  VANESSA “NESS” ROSS visited the COMANCHERO MEMORIAL UP THE COAST AT Palmdale Memorial Park and Crematorium in 2012.

In fact this fathers day will mark 30 years to the day that 6 BIKIE CLUB MEMBERS WERE KILLED, 4 FROM THE COMANCHEROS, 2 FROM THE BANDIDOS AS WELL AS ONE MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC, TEENAGER LEANNE WALTERS, another 26 wounded (click here for my original comprehensive post)

This pic recently fell into my hands and as I get so many requests about any recent images of Jock this is the best you are ever going to get! He is never seen in public.

(To protect some younger family members I have altered them out of the picture. Click the image for a larger view. )

JOCK ROSS AND HIS MISSUS VANESSA “NESS” ROSS Visit the COMANCHERO MEMORIAL UP THE COAST AT Palmdale Memorial Park and Crematorium. To protect some younger family members I have altered them out of the picture

JOCK ROSS AND HIS MISSUS VANESSA “NESS” ROSS Visit the COMANCHERO MEMORIAL UP THE COAST AT Palmdale Memorial Park and Crematorium. To protect some younger family members I have altered them out of the picture

The massacre had its beginnings after a group of Comancheros broke away and formed the first Bandidos Motorcycle Club chapter in Australia. This resulted in intense rivalry between the two chapters.

An advertised “British motorcycle swap meet” was placed in a few local press releases, at the Viking Tavern, with a scheduled start at 10 a.m. on Sunday, September 2, 1984.

On Sunday September 2, 1984 around 1 pm, a heavily armed group of Comancheros entered the carpark of the Viking Tavern during the motorcycle part swap meet with 30 similarly armed Bandidos arriving soon after with a back-up van carrying weapons following close behind. Both sides proceeded to line up at opposite ends of the car park. William George “Jock” Ross, who had founded the Comancheros in 1968, signalled by waving a machete in the air and the two clubs charged at each other.

Police responded after receiving reports that “a man” had gone berserk with a rifle at the Viking Tavern in Milperra and “a few shots” had been fired. The first of more than 200 police began arriving but the fighting continued for another 10 minutes before they were able to stop it. Four Comancheros died from shotgun wounds, two Bandidos died after being shot with a Rossi .357 magnum rifle and a 14-year-old bystander, Leanne Walters, also died after being hit in the face by a stray .357 bullet. A further 28 people were wounded with 20 requiring hospitalisation.

Mark Pennington, one of the first policemen on the scene, was later awarded $380,000 compensation for psychological damage.



  • Andy:  Andrew Thomas
  • Blowave: John Bodt
  • Bones: Scott Dive
  • Chewy: Rick Lorenz
  • Dog: Tony McCoy “Dog” was shot with two blasts to his upper right chest and face. He was hit with such force it was estimated he was dead before he hit the ground.
  • Foghorn; Foggy: Robert Lane “Foggy” was shot in the centre of the chest with a .357 magnum “Rossi” rifle. He remained where he fell and died almost instantly.
  • Glen: Glen Eaves
  • JJ: Robert Heeney
  • Jock: William Ross
  • Kraut: Kevork Tomasian
  • Leroy: Phillip Jeschke “Leroy” Was the Comanchero’s “Sergeant At Arms” and was a “hit” target. He was shot with the .357 magnum “Rossi” rifle and died instantly. Entry and exit wound indicate “Leroy” was crouching over and was shot in the back.
  • Littlejohn: John Hennessey
  • Morts: James Morton
  • Pee Wee: Garry Annakin
  • Snow: Ian White
  • Sparrow, Sparra: Ivan Romcek “Sparrow” was shot with one round of a shotgun and was shot at such close range that the cartridge wadding can be clearly seen embedded in his right ear. He died instantly with a baseball bat under his body
  • Sunshine: Raymond Kucler
  • Terry: Terrence Parker
  • Tonka: Michael O’keefe


  • Bear: Stephen Roberts
  • Bernie: Bernard Podgorski
  • Big Tony: Tony Cain
  • Bull: Phillip Campbell
  • Caesar: Colin Campbell
  • Charlie: Charlie Sciberras
  • Chopper: Mario Cianter “Chopper” was shot with two blasts of a shotgun to his chest and died instantly.
  • Davo: William Littlewood
  • Dukes: Greg McEiwaine
  • Gloves: Mark McElwaine
  • Hookie: Steve Owens
  • Junior. Mark Shorthall
  • Kid Rotten: Lance Purdie
  • Knuckles: Phillip McEiwaine
  • Lance: Lance Wellington
  • Lard: Tony Melville
  • Lout: Rick Harris
  • Lovie: lewis Cooper
  • Opey: Stephen Cowan
  • Peter: Peter Melvine
  • Pig: Grant Everest
  • Ray: Ray Denholm
  • Roach: James Posar
  • Roo: Rua Rophia
  • Shadow: Gregory Campbell “Shadow” was shot in the throat by a shotgun and died instantly. Ironically, because of the number of charges this man’s own brother was charged with the murder.
  • Snake: Geoff Campbell
  • Snodgrass, Snoddy: Anthony Mark Spencer
  • Sparksy: Gerard Parkes
  • Steve: Steve Hails
  • Tiny: Graeme Wilkinson
  • Tom: Tom Denholm
  • Val: Vlado Grahovac
  • Whack: John Campbell
  • Zorba: George Kouratoras

Brothers for Life gang come crashing down

Death of the Brothers 4 Life gang: it destroyed itself in an explosion of ego and violence


The Daily Telegraph

January 10, 2014

THE downfall of the Brothers 4 Life gang began at Bankstown Hospital in February last year.

Lying on a bed was a 24-year-old B4L gang member with a bullet in his right knee and another in his left thigh.

The lifestyle of drug running and gang association had clearly caught up with him – he’d had enough.

Faced with the option of keeping quiet or turning around his life, he made a decision to turn informant.






Tactical response police arrest Farhad Qaumi on the Central Coast yesterday.

Tactical response police arrest Farhad Qaumi on the Central Coast yesterday.

Until then, police had no one inside the gang – finally they had made the all-important breakthrough.

Today he is a key Crown witness, known by the pseudonym of Victim A. Before Victim A, police intelligence on B4L was minimal.

As if taunting police, some B4L members registered cars with the numberplate “MEOC” and had the same word – an acronym for the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad – tattooed on their necks.

But, like pulling on a thread, everything began to unravel after Victim A.

Within months, senior figures were being locked up and charges were being laid over unsolved shootings.

Gangland Boss arrested 0:30

Farhad Qaumi is led away after a dramatic police operation that led to his arrest yesterday.

Farhad Qaumi is led away after a dramatic police operation that led to his arrest yesterday.

Brothers 4 Life leader Farhad Qaumi was handed from tactical response officers to detectives.

Brothers 4 Life leader Farhad Qaumi was handed from tactical response officers to detectives.

Everything appeared to simmer down until last July when gangland figure Farhad Qaumi, arrested on Wednesday, stepped on to the scene – allegedly assuming control of the Blacktown region and setting up a chapter stacked with Afghan members.

Tension soon followed, mainly over drug turf, prompting a series of tit-for-tat shootings, attempted assassinations and at least one murder. The conflict reached its peak on October 31 with the murder of Mahmoud Hamzy at Revesby Heights. Hamzy was gunned down by at least two gunmen outside Mohammed Hamzy’s home.

Bassam Hamzy was jailed for 21 years for murder.

Bassam Hamzy was jailed for 21 years for murder.

Eight days later, NSW Police began making its first major arrests of gang members, taking out its Bankstown chapter from the top down. Its leader Mohammed Hamzy was first to be locked up, charged by the Homicide Squad with the murder of fellow B4L member Yehye Amood at Greenacre in 2012.

Another senior Bankstown chapter member, Omar Ajaj, was also arrested and charged over a separate shooting of fellow gang member Alex Ali, which occurred only a few days prior to the Amood murder.

Although police predicted a partial end to the gang after the initial arrests, gangland violence continued.

One case still being investigated is the murder of businessman Joe Antoun, 50, at his Strathfield home on December 16. Antoun’s business partner, Vasko Boskovski, 35, died in similar circumstances on July 30.

Another case under investigation is the attempted assassination of Qaumi himself as he sat aboard a luxury yacht on New Year’s Day.


BALLISTIC tests on firearms seized by police during investigations into the arrest of three Brothers for Life members have linked the guns to a number of crimes, police said yesterday.

Three handguns and two shotguns were allegedly found during investigations which led to the arrests of BFL leader Farhad Qaumi, 31, his brother Mumtaz, 29, and Masieh Amiri, 27, on Wednesday in Sydney and on the Central Coast.

“Testing has been carried out and linked the weapons to shootings,” Detective Superintendent Debbie Wallace, head of the Middle Eastern Crime Squad, said.

Strike force Sitella is investigating the group for links to seven shootings and a serious assault in the last half of 2013. The NSW Homicide Squad is also investigating the street gang’s involvement in three recent Sydney murders but no additional charges have been laid against any of the accused.

The elder Qaumi has been the target of police investigation since the setting up of the strike force.

He was shot by a gunman while on the luxury yacht Oscar II at Rose Bay Wharf on New Year’s Day, where up to 20 bullets were fired at the vessel.

He was placed under 24-hour surveillance soon after the shooting, leading to his and the others arrests on Wednesday.

Brothers 4 Life leader Farhad Qaumi

Brothers 4 Life leader Farhad Qaumi

Farhad Qaumi, his brother Mumtaz, and Masieh Amiri, were refused bail yesterday on a variety of charges, including gun possession and drug distribution.

Bondi shooting victim in Brothers 4 Life 2:18

Farhad Qaumi: the rise and bloody fall of a brutal gangster

Yoni Bashan

The Daily Telegraph

January 09, 2014

ON the streets he is known as “The Afghan”. At the age of 31 Farhad Qaumi has carved out a reputation as a player in Sydney’s gangland.

But yesterday he was under arrest after a dramatic swoop by police involving heavily armed officers outside a Central Coast hotel.

Officers are hailing the arrest­ as one of the most significant coups in the fight against Brothers 4 Life.

His induction to the B4L gang early last year prompted a wave of internal fighting, public shootings and the murder­ of at least one man, Mahmoud Hamzy, in October.

Only last week Qaumi, a high-value target for the NSW Police Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad, was at the centre of headlines after he was the victim of a shooting while on a luxury yacht on New Year’s Day.






One account of the night, confirmed by multiple sources, is that he was sitting with his back to a window on the boat when the gunshots rang out. But at that moment he knelt down to pick something up from the floor, causing a bullet to miss the bulk of his body and hit his shoulder.

We  can also reveal the celebrations were in honour of a young and high-profile criminal identity who is expected to be sent to jail in the coming weeks over a drug bust.

Another man on the boat, Fawad Bari, 23, was arrested two days later during a vehicle­ stop on the M4. Police allegedly discovered a .38 revolver­. Bari is accused of being aligned to Qaumi’s B4L faction. He denies this.

After months of investigations into Qaumi, police said they have now taken out the head of the Afghan-dominated Blacktown chapter and seven other of its members.

This includes Qaumi‘s two brothers, Jamil and Mumtaz, who are both behind bars. Jamil was charged on November 7 over a shooting involving rival gang members outside Bankstown‘s Chokolatta cafe while Mumtaz was arrested yesterday at a home in Wyong.

Mumtaz was also among those on board the luxury yacht on the night of the shooting

Qaumi’s induction to the gang occurred earlier this year and, according to police, came directly from its founder – Supermax prison inmate Bassam Hamzy.

The move would prove fatal for the gang. His appointment­ prompted immediate factional infighting between the group’s Bankstown and Blacktown chapters. The result has been almost a dozen shootings across Sydney, including the Hamzy murder.

Hamzy was gunned down outside the home of his cousin and Sydney gang leader Mohammed Hamzy, 28, at Revesby Heights.

Mohammed Hamzy has since been charged with the murder of B4L gang member Yehye Amood who was killed by gunfire while in a car at Greenacre in 2012.

The source of conflict between the Bankstown and Blacktown factions allegedly stems from a falling out over drug territory in the Blacktown area.