PNG national jailed for drug conspiracy
A Papua New Guinea national who conspired to smuggle $90 million of cocaine into Australia held a valuable position for the traffickers as a logistics worker, a court has heard.
Charles Wagambio, 37, was part of a syndicate that planned to bring two shipments of about 600kg of the drug from South America into Australia via Papua New Guinea, the Brisbane Supreme Court has been told.
The conspiracy to ship the cocaine from Peru was busted by authorities without any drugs arriving in Australia.
Wagambio was part of one unsuccessful attempt to import 300kg of cocaine concealed in pallets of jam in a sea-shipping container, Justice Soraya Ryan said on Monday.
Wagambio searched the container after it arrived in Port Moresby in January 2018 but found there was no cocaine concealed in it as he had expected.
They decided to import another container of cocaine. However, the Peruvian national police arrested the criminal syndicate, seizing more than one tonne of cocaine.
"Had the second attempted importation not been interrupted a third was to follow," Justice Mullins told the court.
The plan was to bring the drugs from PNG across the Torres Strait into far north Queensland using small boats.
Wagambio was a valuable part of the conspiracy from April 2016 until he voluntarily came to Australia, knowing he would be arrested, in June 2018.
"In so far as the syndicate was concerned, your occupation and your expertise were very valuable," Justice Ryan told him during sentencing.
Wagambio was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years in jail after pleading guilty previously to conspiring to import cocaine and dealing in the proceeds of crime.
He will serve a non-parole period of six-and-a-half years.
Wagambio's co-accused, Paul Smith and Jeffrey John Sagar, are yet to face committal over alleged links to the syndicate, the court was told.