Trio face court after 71.6kg of cocaine hidden in oil

Police carry out forensic testing on the barrels of hydraulic oil seized by the AFP at the Mackay railway yard.
Police carry out forensic testing on the barrels of hydraulic oil seized by the AFP at the Mackay railway yard. Contributed

ACCUSED drug traffickers in Australia thought their first shipment of hydraulic oil from South America would contain cocaine hidden in barrels of oil.

When the shipment arrived without the drugs, questions started being asked, a court was told.

Transcripts of conversations between alleged drug syndicate members were detailed at Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday during a contested sentence hearing for three men charged with conspiring to traffic and import drugs.

Australian authorities found 71.6kg of pure cocaine hidden in oil when a shipment arrived in Australia.

Crown prosecutor Glen Rice said one of the three men, Alexis Giovany Gomez Ruiz, 35, told a syndicate leader that the South American drug suppliers were hesitant to put cocaine in the first shipment because Customs could have discovered it.

Mr Gomez Ruiz and two other Colombian nationals - Juan Pablo Ocampo Alvarez, 29, and German Rendon Alvarez, 47 - have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the operation but are disputing some of the facts.

Their sentence hearing has been adjourned until later this month to allow the defence lawyers more time to have the drug analysed.

It is alleged Mackay mining businessman Markis Scott Turner was the drug syndicate leader who used his mining business as a front to import the oil. His case was also mentioned at the Supreme Court this week but he cannot be located.

On Thursday Mr Rice told the court Mr Turner asked why the drugs weren't in the shipment and Mr Gomez Ruiz told him it was unwise to hide cocaine in the first load because Customs in South America checked everything.

Mr Gomez Ruiz also said it was important to get Customs' trust and it would be easier to hide cocaine in the later shipments, Mr Rice told the court.

The case will be mentioned again on November 23.


Topics:  cocaine court drugs editors picks mackay oil police

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