Drug ring raids net historic $360m cocaine haul

A former NRL player and a Bondi businessman have been linked to a drug ring after New South Wales Police recorded the biggest cocaine haul in Australia’s history.
The joint strike force between Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Police drug squad arrested 15 men and seized about $360 million worth of cocaine.

Former Roosters player John Tobin is one of the accused smugglers, along with Bondi businessman Darren Mohr.

The criminal syndicate was allegedly using a trawler based at the Sydney Fish Market to meet a “mother ship” from South America to bring drugs into the country.

About 500 kilograms of the drug was seized on Christmas Day at Brooklyn on the central coast of New South Wales.

Police allege 600 kilograms was seized in Tahiti and 32 kilograms of heroin was found in Fiji with both loads destined for the market in Australia.

Acting Assistant Commissioner, Chris Sheehan, said the police operation had been running for almost three years and escalated with the arrests over the Christmas period.

“The criminal syndicate we have dismantled over the last few days was a robust, resilient and determined syndicate,” he said.


abc.net.au

Drug ring raids net historic $360m cocaine haul

By Siobhan Fogarty

Updated 18 minutes ago

Thu 29 Dec 2016, 12:17pm

A former NRL player and a Bondi businessman have been linked to a drug ring after New South Wales Police recorded the biggest cocaine haul in Australia’s history.

Key points:

  • 1.1 tonnes of cocaine worth $360 million seized by AFP and NSW police
  • Two seizures of cocaine make the biggest haul of the drug in Australian history
  • 15 men arrested including a former NRL player and a Bondi businessman

The joint strike force between Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Police drug squad arrested 15 men and seized about $360 million worth of cocaine.

Former Roosters player John Tobin is one of the accused smugglers, along with Bondi businessman Darren Mohr.

The criminal syndicate was allegedly using a trawler based at the Sydney Fish Market to meet a “mother ship” from South America to bring drugs into the country.

About 500 kilograms of the drug was seized on Christmas Day at Brooklyn on the central coast of New South Wales.

Police allege 600 kilograms was seized in Tahiti and 32 kilograms of heroin was found in Fiji with both loads destined for the market in Australia.

Acting Assistant Commissioner, Chris Sheehan, said the police operation had been running for almost three years and escalated with the arrests over the Christmas period.

“The criminal syndicate we have dismantled over the last few days was a robust, resilient and determined syndicate,” he said.

“This is the largest cocaine seizure we have had in Australia.

“It posed an ongoing and continued threat to the Australian community and without the work of our police, would still be in action today.”

Tip-off from community led to bust

Assistant Police Commissioner, Mark Jenkins said a member of the community gave them a tip-off two and a half years ago that led to the cocaine haul.

“As a result, over one tonne of drugs has been prevented from reaching the streets of New South Wales and harming the community,” he said.

“That small piece of information has resulted in 15 arrests and a large seizure of drugs.”

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

Video: Police seized 500kg worth of cocaine in NSW (ABC News)

Officers allege the group of men, aged from 29 to 63, are involved in the Australian criminal syndicate responsible for the attempted imports.

They have been charged with serious drug importation offences and eleven of the 15 men have appeared before Parramatta Local Court and were refused bail.

A 49-year-old man and a 63-year-old man are due to appear before Central Local Court today.

Two other men, a 33-year-old and 39-year-old are also expected to front Nowra Local Court today after they were arrested at Ulladulla yesterday.

Police said they were confident all alleged members of the criminal syndicate were in custody.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

Video: Arrests made after $360m worth of cocaine seized (ABC News)

Topics: crime, law-crime-and-justice, drug-offences, nsw

First posted about 4 hours agoThu 29 Dec 2016, 7:48am


smh.com.au

Police smash cocaine ring at Sydney Fish Market in Christmas Day raid

By Rachel Olding, Latika Bourke, Rachel Browne

A former rugby league first grade player, a Bondi entrepreneur and a several fishermen are among 15 men arrested on Christmas Day in a multimillion-dollar cocaine ring bust.

Police will allege the men were imported more than a tonne of cocaine via the iconic Sydney Fish Market and other NSW ports.

Australian Federal Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan described the alleged syndicate as “robust, resilient and determined”.

He told a packed Sydney press conference that the 15 arrested men were “determined to exploit some of the most vulnerable members of the community.”

The seizure of 500kg of cocaine in Sydney, 600kg of the drug in Tahiti and 32kg of heroin in Fiji make it the largest drug bust of its kind in Australia.

NSW Police State Crime Commander Mark Jenkins said all the drugs originated in South America before being transferred across the South Pacific by ship.

Several of the men were arrested on Christmas Day as they docked a shipping vessel named Dalrymple at the Sydney Fish Markets.

It’s alleged the boat was used to ferry drugs between NSW ports and a larger ship stationed out at sea that held drugs smuggled from Chile.

Operation Okesi, comprising officers from NSW Police, Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force, started over two-and-a-half-years after police received a “thread” of information.

Since then, five alleged importations by the sophisticated syndicate have been thwarted.

It includes the seizure of 32 kilograms of heroin by authorities in Fiji in December 2014 and the seizure of 606 kilograms of cocaine by authorities in Tahiti in March.

Officers then observed the Dalrymple depart the Sydney Fish Markets on December 3 and travel to the Central Coast. The vessel was monitored by Maritime Border Command and the NSW Police’s Marine Area Command.

On Christmas night, officers watched the crew launch a small one-man dinghy which allegedly travelled to Parlsey Bay at Brooklyn on the NSW Central Coast and met with two other men.

All three were arrested and about 500 kilograms of cocaine was seized from the dinghy.

Several other men were arrested on board the Dalrymple vessel as it docked at Sydney Fish Market on Christmas night.

A police source told Fairfax Media the syndicate thought they could take advantage of the festive season by striking on Christmas Day.

Authorities valued the total amount of cocaine seized at $360 million.

Among the men arrested is former Eastern Suburbs Roosters player John Roland Boyd Tobin, who played 125 matches as lock forward in the 1980s.

Bondi entrepreneur Darren John Mohr was also arrested. He lists his occupation as the owner Martini Motors and is also the former owner of the Bondi Rescue HQ cafe.

His Instagram profile shows a love of Harley Davidson motorbikes, Rolls Royce cars and being shirtless.

Police also arrested Reuben John Dawe, who lists his occupation as a maritime worker and commercial fisherman Joseph Pirrello, 63.

Other man arrested in the sting include Simon Peter Spero, 56, Graham Toa Toa, 42, Stuart Ayrton, 54, Jonathan Cooper, 29, Richard Lipton, 37, Frank D’Agostino, 54, and Benjamin Sara, 31.

They were all refused bail in Parramatta Bail Court on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Two other men, extradited from Tasmania and Queensland, will appear in Parramatta Bail Court on Thursday as well as two men arrested in the Nowra area.

Footage released by police show multiple men being arrested in the dark from on-board the Dalrymple fishing vessel.

One of the men shown with his hands tied behind his back is wearing only a pair of boxer shorts covered in cartoon pictures of crocodiles.

“This operation has been running for more than two-and-a-half years and culminated over the Christmas period,” a police statement reads.

The men were aged between 29 and 63 years old.  Police are due to address the media at 11am on Thursday.

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Mr Asia : Last Man Standing : The Inside Story Of Australia’s Most Notorious Drug Syndicate (Book Review)


Mr Asia : Last Man Standing : The Inside Story Of Australia's Most Notorious Drug Syndicate
Mr Asia : Last Man Standing : The Inside Story Of Australia's Most Notorious Drug Syndicate

Do not think for one instant that a life of crime is glamorous and exciting. It is not. It is a life of degradation, dishonesty, misery, violence, and loss of liberty.

It has been more than 30 years since the Mr Asia drug syndicate came apart, when the handless, toothless body of Martin Johnstone was found dumped in a quarry in England. The members of the syndicate were responsible for a string of dead bodies all over the world and the importation of hundreds of kilograms of heroin and marijuana into Australia, New Zealand and Britain – and they made tens of millions of dollars doing it.

In this never before heard story from the only surviving member of the syndicate, James Shepherd tells of Mr Asia’s rise and fall in gritty, horrifying detail. This is not the flashy, glamorised account put forward in Underbelly, but raw, unadulterated truth. James Shepherd was named by the 1983 Stewart Royal Commission as second in charge of the Mr Asia Drug Syndicate, and was given a 25 year sentence for his role. The long years spent in jail contemplating the murder and misery caused by the syndicate convinced him that the full story needed to be told – as a warning to others, if nothing else. The result is something unique – as fascinating as it is horrifying. It’s the real insiders account of the multi-million dollar, kill-or-be-killed world of our most notorious international drug syndicate.

Author Information

Described as a career criminal, James Shepherd has a history spanning over 50 years. Very few people have such a detailed understanding of how the violent and brutal criminal world operates and the real lives criminals lead. Born in New Zealand, James operated at the highest levels of the criminal world in New Zealand, Australia, England and America. Acknowledged by the 1983 Stewart Royal Commission as second in charge of the Mr Asia Drug Syndicate, he was sentenced in 1986 to 25 years imprisonment for his involvement. Over the years he has often been approached by the media for the real Mr Asia story. A private, articulate and intelligent man, James now chooses to live a quieter life in Sydney, Australia.

Do not think for one instant that a life of crime is glamorous and exciting. It is not. It is a life of degradation, dishonesty, misery, violence, and loss of liberty.

So says Jim Shepherd, a ‘career criminal’ who was jailed for 25 years in 1986 for his involvement in the Mr Asia Drug Syndicate.

The continuing success of the Underbelly series is proof that there is a huge audience for true, homegrown stories of organised crime. Shepherd’s voice is truly authentic. He speaks from the heart and doesn’t hold back on the grimier details, even when he is implicated.

Reviewed By Toni Whitmont, Booktopia Buzz Editor

Mr Asia : Last Man Standing : The Inside Story Of Australia's Most Notorious Drug Syndicate (Book Review)


Mr Asia : Last Man Standing : The Inside Story Of Australia's Most Notorious Drug Syndicate
Mr Asia : Last Man Standing : The Inside Story Of Australia's Most Notorious Drug Syndicate

Do not think for one instant that a life of crime is glamorous and exciting. It is not. It is a life of degradation, dishonesty, misery, violence, and loss of liberty.

It has been more than 30 years since the Mr Asia drug syndicate came apart, when the handless, toothless body of Martin Johnstone was found dumped in a quarry in England. The members of the syndicate were responsible for a string of dead bodies all over the world and the importation of hundreds of kilograms of heroin and marijuana into Australia, New Zealand and Britain – and they made tens of millions of dollars doing it.

In this never before heard story from the only surviving member of the syndicate, James Shepherd tells of Mr Asia’s rise and fall in gritty, horrifying detail. This is not the flashy, glamorised account put forward in Underbelly, but raw, unadulterated truth. James Shepherd was named by the 1983 Stewart Royal Commission as second in charge of the Mr Asia Drug Syndicate, and was given a 25 year sentence for his role. The long years spent in jail contemplating the murder and misery caused by the syndicate convinced him that the full story needed to be told – as a warning to others, if nothing else. The result is something unique – as fascinating as it is horrifying. It’s the real insiders account of the multi-million dollar, kill-or-be-killed world of our most notorious international drug syndicate.

Author Information

Described as a career criminal, James Shepherd has a history spanning over 50 years. Very few people have such a detailed understanding of how the violent and brutal criminal world operates and the real lives criminals lead. Born in New Zealand, James operated at the highest levels of the criminal world in New Zealand, Australia, England and America. Acknowledged by the 1983 Stewart Royal Commission as second in charge of the Mr Asia Drug Syndicate, he was sentenced in 1986 to 25 years imprisonment for his involvement. Over the years he has often been approached by the media for the real Mr Asia story. A private, articulate and intelligent man, James now chooses to live a quieter life in Sydney, Australia.

Do not think for one instant that a life of crime is glamorous and exciting. It is not. It is a life of degradation, dishonesty, misery, violence, and loss of liberty.

So says Jim Shepherd, a ‘career criminal’ who was jailed for 25 years in 1986 for his involvement in the Mr Asia Drug Syndicate.

The continuing success of the Underbelly series is proof that there is a huge audience for true, homegrown stories of organised crime. Shepherd’s voice is truly authentic. He speaks from the heart and doesn’t hold back on the grimier details, even when he is implicated.

Reviewed By Toni Whitmont, Booktopia Buzz Editor