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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NOTORIOUS recaptured rapist Cameron John Graham allowed privileges at Christmas? WTF


What the hell was a recently jailed rapist (for 11 years )  doing being flown to be “Near family” at Christmas in the first place? What sort of jail system do we have?Bloody law abiding folks often only WISH they could afford to see family…Absolute joke…What are your thoughts readers?

Jail transfers halted, prison escapees captured overnight

A NOTORIOUS rapist allowed privileges at Christmas and another fugitive were captured overnight after their shambolic escape saw Corrective Services chief James McMahon yesterday cancels all non-essential prison transfers.

CCTV from BP Cue petrol station showing escapee Cameron John Graham wearing orange cap and dark T shirt with “LA” in large letters on the front.

CCTV from BP Cue petrol station showing escapee Cameron John Graham wearing orange cap and dark T shirt with “LA” in large letters on the front.

Cameron John Graham, 22, sentenced in November to 11 years jail for brutally raping a mother, escaped from custody after being flown from his Perth prison cell to Geraldton to be close to his family for Christmas.

Kelden Edward Fraser, 23, who escaped from a prison van in Geraldton

Kelden Edward Fraser, 23, who escaped from a prison van in Geraldton

Graham and another prisoner, Kelden Edward Fraser, 23, were captured after police used a plane to find their bush camp in the Mullewa area, near Geraldton.

Officers were deployed to the camp where they arrested Graham and Fraser just after 1am this morning.

The pair were taken to Geraldton Police Station.

The escape has increased heat on Serco, the private company responsible for prisoner transfer.

After refusing to front the media yesterday, Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis told The Sunday Times last night when asked about Serco: “Of course I am disappointed in Serco. They are skating on thin ice.”

 In the wake of the security failure, Commissioner McMahon also ordered a review of the prisoner transfer process, as the State Opposition called for a parliamentary inquiry into the debacle.

CorrectIve Services Commissioner James McMahon faces the media today

CorrectIve Services Commissioner James McMahon faces the media today

Acting Premier Kim Hames and Mr McMahon were left to face a barrage of questions yesterday.

Mr McMahon said that as a result of the incident only prison transfers approved by him would go ahead.

 “At the department we take this very seriously. Our ultimate job is to provide safety to the community,” he said. “We failed. The ultimate responsibility for that is me. Let me very clear about that.”

He added: “I think it is an outrage. I am going to get to the bottom of it.”

Mr McMahon also put Serco on notice. Serco was transporting the escapees.

“There have been a number of incidents that have come across my desk that have involved Serco,” he said.

“Do I have concerns? Absolutely I do. And I am reviewing that in its entirety.

“I will be making my point very strongly and clearly to Serco that the minimum requirement I require of any organisation that are trans-porting people from a custodial perspective is that it needs to be done securely.”

Opposition spokesman for corrective services Paul Papalia said yesterday Labor would move a motion calling for the inquiry when parliament resumes next month.

Mr Papalia said it was “inconceivable” that one month after starting his jail term Graham would be transferred from maximum security at a Perth prison – believed to be Hakea – to medium-security Greenough Regional Prison to be closer to his family for Christmas.

Mr Papalia said that Graham did not deserve the festive season perk and the “risks were too high”.

 When Graham broke into the woman’s home on January 15 last year, he threatened to murder her children.

He then forced her to undress before repeatedly raping his terrified victim in her walk-in robe.

Afterwards he ordered her to drive to a nearby cash machine and withdraw $400.

At sentencing, District Court judge Christopher Stevenson said Graham’s offending was of “such gravity” that it was difficult to find words “as a human being to describe the nature and depravity of it”.

But one month later, ­Graham was rewarded with a taxpayer-funded flight to see his family in Geraldton.

Asked by the media yesterday why Mr Francis was missing in action, Dr Hames said: “I don’t know where he is. He is not my responsibility.”

“I don’t know the circumstances behind Joe not being able to talk today. The Minister has a full understanding of the implications of his responsibilities as a Minister. It’s up to him to make those decisions and up to the Premier to make judgments on whether those decisions are accurate or not.”

Mr Papalia said: ” Corrective Services minister Joe Francis needs to provide the community a full explanation as to why this perk was allowed.

“When parliament resumes we will attempt to have this investigated and (we) want the government’s support.

“In this case, it would appear the prisoner was transferred to Greenough so that his family could go and see him in prison – just one month after he was sentenced.

“This is a guy (Mr Francis) who chases publicity for self promotion and spin but is shy when there is an issue. I will be writing to the Minister and asking him for the specific process that occurs for transfers of Mr McMahon said a detailed investigation was also being conducted by Serco.

Mr Papalia said Serco should also be part of the inquiry.

“Serco has had a series of failures in the past few months,” Mr Papalia said.

Graham was being transferred back to Perth on Friday when he kicked the door out of a prison van at Geraldton airport and stole a rental car at 1pm.

Fraser, 23, on remand at Greenough for alleged armed robbery, also escaped with him.

The car allegedly stolen by the pair was found bogged 39km north of Mullewa.

Police officers had resumed the search at first light yesterday after reports the escapees were seen refuelling at a BP service station in Cue, 651km northeast of Perth, about 8.30pm on Friday.

They were seen by police travelling along Great Northern Highway but disappeared 15km north of Mount Magnet.

About 2.30am, police spotted the car on the Geraldton-Mount Magnet Rd heading east. A car chase ensued but officers lost them.

Police last night used helicopters and night-vision equipment to locate the men.

 Serco declined to comment

Queen of Con, Jody Harris


Australia’s Queen of Con, Jody Harris

Paul Anderson

IF CONWOMAN Jody Harris had used her extraordinary nous and talent for good instead of criminal gain she could have been anything.

Dubbed Australia’s greatest con-woman by police for good reason, Harris committed an amazing con-job spree along the eastern seaboard; fleecing women’s bank accounts and stealing policemen’s hearts.

Police who investigated Harris – and those who slept with her – have grudgingly admitted she is the best female confidence swindler this country has ever seen.

Her methods were so impressive, and her vixen-like persona so elusive, that one senior Victorian police officer likened her to the famed US conman Frank Abagnale – the man who inspired the hit film Catch Me If You Can.

As a young man, Abagnale cashed millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent cheques while posing as a pilot, doctor, lawyer and professor.

A major thorn in the side of the FBI, he seduced a handful of women before he was finally arrested.

During her run, Harris (now known by the surname Harding) posed as an air hostess, doctor, psychiatrist, policewoman and even the niece of slain Melbourne underworld figure Mario Condello as she befriended women and gleaned documents and information necessary to impersonate them and plunder their banks accounts.

Born in Queensland, Harris was the daughter of a violent father and now well-known human rights activist turned lawyer Debbie Kilroy (nee Harding).

Harris had an abused and disrupted childhood.

 

Conwoman Jody Harris bled victims’ bank accounts dry in three states.

Judge Felicity Hampel would confirm in Melbourne’s County Court: “You were denied in your childhood the safety and stability which family life should provide children.”

Debbie was only 17 when she gave birth to Jody.

After she and her daughter were assaulted, Debbie left her violent husband.

“(Jody’s) father had always inflicted violence on me and I stayed in that, but the day that he hit her with a broom handle in the chest because she was crying, I actually left the relationship,” Debbie explained in the County Court.

Barrister Julie Sutherland told the same court that, after being abused by an uncle, Harris started committing crime at the age of 14.

She was even able to change all my personal details on the cards to hers to the point where, when I tried to change them back to mine, I could hardly prove who I was any more

“Even at 14 she’s making out she’s a policewoman and committing frauds, and so it goes on – year after sorry year,” Ms Sutherland said.

Years on, and using clever cover stories – while sometimes disguised in wigs and sunglasses – Harris got chummy with chosen victims and stole their identities before making a mockery of bank security by withdrawing thousands.

 

Jody Harris used all her charms to rack up debts under other peoples’ names.

She lived it up, sating her taste for luxury goods buying jewellery, designer clothes and accessories (her favourite brand was Louis Vuitton).

She stayed in five-star hotels where, on occasion, she stole personal documents from staff and guests at the gym facilities.

On one occasion on the streets of Melbourne, she pretended to be a detective and pulled over a 21-year-old woman named Alysha Searle.

Flashing a badge, she tricked Ms Searle into handing over her licence.

“She was very convincing,” Ms Searle would later say in court.

Using the licence, Harris withdrew $3000 from Ms Searle’s bank account and changed the password.

That was not the first time Harris had successfully posed as a copper.

According to court testimony from Victoria Police internal affairs investigator Det-Sgt Frank Torcasio, there was an allegation that Harris impersonated a policewoman and gained access to the Roma Street police complex in Brisbane in 1998.

Det-Sgt Torcasio also confirmed an allegation that Harris had lived with a Sydney detective for about six months.

 

Jody Harris is arrested in Sydney in 2006.

He also told the County Court that Harris had socialised with Victorian policemen in 2001 while pretending to be a visiting detective from New South Wales.

The Victorian cops had not doubted her story.

“They took it on face value on the flashing of a badge,” Det-Sgt Torcasio told the court.

About 12 years before she hooked up with Acting-Sgt Andrew Twining, Harris had met another Victorian policeman who worked at the Russell Street police station.

Harris told that officer that she was the daughter of an advertising executive and had attended a prestigious Brisbane girls’ school.

A relationship blossomed between the two; a relationship that ended that policeman’s career.

“I think she just had a fixation with me because I was a copper,” that former officer told the Sunday Herald Sun.

Harris became the focus of Victorian detectives in early 2006.

On May 19 that year, detective Paul Bertoncello spoke to this author and provided full details of Harris’s crime wave for a front-page story.

 

Jody Harris looked much more innocent in her pictures, even when she was snapped at Brisbane’s Correctional Centre in 2000.

“It’s like chasing a phantom,” Sen-Det Bertoncello said.

“She’s using different names and has proved very hard to track down.”

Victims included women such as Anita Mulligan, who fell and hit her head in the Melbourne CBD one night.

Harris swooped and drove Ms Mulligan to hospital, where she stole her licence and credit card before ringing her father to glean personal information.

“She told my dad she was a nurse and that her de facto was a police officer,” Ms Mulligan later told the Herald Sun.

“She conned my father and got whatever information she needed out of him.”

Harris changed Ms Mulligan’s bank account password and stole $10,500 from her account.

Posing as the daughter of a wealthy businessman, the “Queen of Con” tricked boutique clothing store owner Nova Gordon.

Using Ms Gordon’s stolen licence, Harris stole $37,870 from the bank – despite Ms Gordon freezing her account.

 

Police seized a huge array of photos of fake licences, credit cards and other IDs in the possession of Jody Harris, aka Jody Pearson-Harding and Jody Kilroy.

“She had all the trappings and pulled up outside my shop in a new four-wheel drive Lexus, dripping in jewellery,” Gordon would later say.

“I found out that Jody had been in the branch and convinced them she was me, and had the block removed. Her systems were better than ours.”

Another of Harris’ victims told police: “She was even able to change all my personal details on the cards to hers to the point where, when I tried to change them back to mine, I could hardly prove who I was any more.”

Another victim, Amanda Urquhart, stated: “You can remove yourself from it if people are using your ID, but if they start pretending to be you – that’s when it starts getting creepy.”

Less than a week after the first Herald Sun story appeared in May 2006, Harris rang Sen-Det Bertoncello’s office to bait her hunters.

She told investigators that she had been living in South Yarra.

It was a taunt: catch me if you can.

Detectives raided the vacated unit and found a Queensland police badge, a Victoria Police shirt and a Virgin Blue hostess outfit along with name tag, pin and crew bag tags.

Andrew Twining was on a cruise-ship holiday when a mate of his informed him about the true identity of his girlfriend.

 

Frank Abagnale (Leonardo Dicaprio) surrounds himself with stewardesses, who have no trouble believing he is an airline pilot in the film Catch Me If You Can.

Upon his return to Melbourne, Mr Twining helped a joint interstate police operation arrest Harris.

On July 6, 2006 he drove to Sydney to trip the trap.

Police swooped and netted the conwoman.

In Harris’s possession they found wigs, police property and more than 100 items of identification including a false Australian passport, driver’s licences, bank and credit cards, birth certificates, Medicare cards and even two Californian driver’s licences.

In the custody of NSW detectives, a drab and defeated-looking Harris spoke her mind to her captors, saying she must have been in “f—ing Hicksville full of f—ing two-headed c—s.”

“No offence,” she added facetiously.

In September 2006 at the age of 28, Harris pleaded guilty to 43 charges in NSW where she had bought more than $175,000 worth of goods and services using credit and bank cards stolen from 33 victims.

Items included a $3950 TAG Heuer diamond watch, a $1600 designer “bichoodle” poodle pup, bags, expensive clothes and shoes, hair extensions and a pearl necklace.

In sentencing her to four years’ jail with a minimum of 3 1/2, Magistrate Allan Moore said: “There is little doubt you are a person of intellect; a person of skill. One would have to suggest strongly that this was a matter of greed.”

In the Melbourne County Court, Harris pleaded guilty to a 36-count presentment relating to 15 victims.

Between January and May 2006, she stole a total $120,180 cash from various Victorian banks.

She used that money, in part, to purchase plane tickets, fancy dinners, hotel rooms, Louis Vuitton gear, clothing and lingerie.

Judge Hampel was told that Harris wanted to change her ways and replicate the shining example of her mother – a prisoner support advocate and solicitor with an Order of Australia honour to her name.

Harris also provided police with a video interview revealing her methods of operation for fraud investigators to study.

Just like Frank Abagnale, she had shared her criminal expertise with law enforcement agencies.

In sentencing Harris on December 19, 2008, Judge Hampel told her: “Your (record of) interview makes it clear that you took pride in the audacity of your activity, that you revelled in the publicity and that you used the money and credit to provide yourself with an ostentatiously luxurious lifestyle.”

It was a lifestyle that cost Jody Harris much more than she gained during her reign as the queen of con.

 

 

 

Prison officers arrested on drug trafficking ring with crims at Barwon Prison


This comes as no surprise actually folks but the ramifications will be wide and far…MORE TO COME

UPDATE 11/07/12

EXCLUSIVE: KILLER bikie Christopher Wayne Hudson and one of Australia’s most feared hitmen were allegedly able to run a drug ring with corrupt guards inside Victoria’s most secure jail.

 

Three Barwon Prison officers were arrested during raids in Geelong and the northern suburbs yesterday, after an eight-month investigation. Two have since been charged with drug offences.

Sources close to the operation claim one of the guards, a 40-year-old man from Grovedale, had formed a close relationship with the two killers and had been monitored having long conversations in their cells, as well as passing notes and other items under their doors.

Authorities are also concerned about information passed between the cells and out of the prison.

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Charlie Bezzina: Risk of mixing with the dark side

Barwon Prison security faces fierce scrutiny

Hudson, a Hells Angel, is serving a minimum of 35 years in jail over the 2007 CBD shootings of father of three Brendan Keilar, who died, and Dutch backpacker Paul de Waard.

The contract killer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is serving 32 years for the murders of Dorothy and Ramon Abbey in 1987.

Charges against him over the murders of police informers Terence and Christine Hodson were dropped.

The veteran trigger man is linked to some of Australia’s most infamous underworld figures and is suspected of multiple murders.

Last night a 40-year-old Grovedale man was charged with trafficking a drug of dependence, misconduct in public office, possessing an unregistered firearm, possessing a prohibited weapon and possessing and using a drug of dependence, while a 40-year-old Norlane man was charged with possessing and using a drug of dependence.

Both were bailed to appear in the Geelong Magistrates’ Court on 26 September.

A 31-year-old female prison officer from Norlane was interviewed and released pending further inquiries.

A 46-year-old Norlane man and an 18-year-old Delahey man, who were not Corrections Victoria staff, were released pending further inquiries.

Operation Puli, run by Victoria Police drug taskforce detectives, started in November after intelligence was passed on by Corrections Victoria.

Houses were raided in the Geelong area and at Delahey, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, from 7am yesterday.

Cannabis and prescription medication were seized.

Victoria Police acting Deputy Commissioner Jeff Pope said the suspect behaviour was confined to Barwon Prison, the state’s highest-security prison.

“It does seem to be isolated to this core group of prison officers,” Mr Pope said.

“One or two of these guards has formed a relationship with a small group of inmates that is inappropriate.”

Acting Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard said the guards worked across the prison and were not restricted to one particular section

An aerial shot of Barwon Prison WHERE SCREWS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AMID A drug trafficking RING INSIDE THE PRISON!

UPDATE 3.15PM 10/07/12

Those arrested were a 40-year-old Grovedale man, a 31-year-old Norlane woman, a 41-year-old Norlane man and a 46-year-old Norlane man.

Victoria Police officers swooped on several properties in the Geelong region connected to Barwon Prison from 7am, completing searches a short time ago.

Four prison officers have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by police and Corrections Victoria which has linked guards to inmates.

PRISON officers accused of running a drug trafficking ring with criminals have been arrested in a series of co-ordinated raids.

Victoria Police officers swooped on several properties in the Geelong region connected to Barwon Prison from 7am, completing searches a short time ago.

The Herald Sun understands four prison officers have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation by police and Corrections Victoria which has linked guards to inmates.

Barwon Prison, near Geelong, houses the state’s worst convicted criminals, among them influential organised crime figures.

Gangland killer Evangelos Goussis, drug boss Tony Mokbel, and middle-eastern crime gang members are all housed at Barwon Prison, however no identities of inmates connected to today’s raids have been revealed.

Inappropriate relationships between staff and inmates at Corrections Victoria’s jail are considered a major security risk.

Staff at Barwon came under unprecedented levels of scrutiny following the death of  Carl Williams.

More to come …

Gerard Baden-Clay-How does the Puzzle look?


Murder shall be taken to have been committed where the act of the accused, or thing by him or her omitted to be done, causing the death charged, was done or omitted with reckless indifference to human life, or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person, or done in an attempt to commit, or during or immediately after the commission, by the accused, or some accomplice with him or her, of a crime…

This high profile case has captured the imagination of everybody it seems. From the day Allison went missing,  the suspicious behaviour of her husband, to the search, The discovery of her body, The funeral, The investigation, The media, and Arrest which came from nowhere and then the Bail application, the Bomb Threat, then Bail was denied and now GBC is on remand in Jail

So here we are many months later and what do we have. We obviously have a highly circumstantial case of Murder against Gerard Baden-Clay at the moment.

I think any ONE aspect taken in isolation could be seen to be suspicious.

But as one links all the pieces together they start to paint a much bigger picture.

Means, Motive, and Opportunity is a popular cultural summation of the three aspects of a crime needed to convince a jury of guilt in a criminal proceeding. Respectively, they refer to: the ability of the defendant to commit the crime (means), the reason the defendant had to commit the crime (motive), and whether or not the defendant had the chance to commit the crime (opportunity). Opportunity is most often disproved by use of an alibi, which can prove the accused was not able to commit the crime as he or she did not have the correct set of circumstances to commit the crime. Ironically, motive is not an element of many crimes, but proving motive can often make it easier to convince a jury of the elements that must be proved for a conviction. Furthermore, a showing of the presence of these three elements is not, in and of itself, sufficient to convict beyond a reasonable doubt; the evidence must prove that an opportunity presented was indeed taken by the accused and for the crime with which he or she is charged.

Motive, that being the massive financial debt, the affairs and the promise to leave his wife to his mistress, Toni McHugh.

Opportunity, did Gerard have the opportunity to murder his wife. Could of someone else done it? Was he helped in anyway?

Means, if he did murder her, How did he go about it. How was she killed?, where was she killed?, When did it happen?, Where was she taken? The list goes on.

The pieces of clues to this puzzle are significant and reach wide. We are going to have a go at documenting them right here folks UNDER THE FOLLOWING HEADINGS

MOTIVE thread

OPPORTUNITY thread

MEANS thread

This thread you are reading has comments CLOSED

The RED THREADS above will come online at 6AM Friday 29/06/12

Robbo