The embarrassing way drug runners were caught
It seemed like a match made in drug-running heaven.
One man, Todd Elliot Mehlhopt, ran a successful glazing business in Surfers Paradise who had cash and a penchant for cocaine.
His "mate, through a mate", Garth Michael Molloy, of Broadbeach, was a concreter who - while he did not do drugs himself - had connections to a significant upline supplier in Sydney.
The plan was simple: fly to Sydney, hire a car and drive $30,000 worth of cocaine back to the Gold Coast where Molloy would get $3000 cash and the proceeds of the sale of a third of the drugs while Mehlhopt would keep half of his share for "personal use" and onsell the rest at a profit.
The only problem was the police were listening in the whole time, a court has heard.
Mehlhopt, 30, and Molloy, 41, were sentenced at Gosford District Court on Wednesday for one count each of supplying a prohibited drug more than the indictable quantity but less than the commercial quantity.
The court heard the pair took an early morning Jetsar flight from the Gold Coast to Sydney on April 12 last year.
Meanwhile officers attached to Strike Force Hansel had obtained telephone intercept warrants for a suspected Sydney drug dealer, who Molloy had been regularly in contact with.
The pair hired a grey Toyota Kluger with Queensland plates in Mehlhopt's name and at 8.44am the alleged Sydney drug dealer text messaged Molloy "U close".
Police intercepted a subsequent phone call where the dealer directed them to attend the car park at Thornleigh McDonalds.
At 9.40am the dealer rang Molloy and redirected him to the car park underneath the adjacent Bunnings Warehouse where Mehlhopt got out as they drove down the ramp.
Police meanwhile were conducting surveillance and observed a white SUV with an unknown man sitting in the driver's seat parked in the car park.
Police saw the grey Kluger pull up to the white SUV and observed the two men meeting for a short time before both vehicles exited the car park.
The court heard Brisbane Water Highway Patrol officers pulled the Kluger over on the Wyong Rd exit of the M1 and noticed Mehlhopt had a "hard object bulging in the front of his jeans near his groin area".
Police said "mate, what's that bulging in your underpants?" and Mehlhopt replied "I guess it's drugs".
He removed the drugs, which tests later confirmed was 112g of cocaine and had his DNA on the knot of the bag.
Mehlhopt was arrested and charged at Wyong Police Station while Molloy, who denied any knowledge of the drugs, was initially allowed to continue on to Queensland.
However police intercepted 10 subsequent calls between Molloy and the alleged Sydney drug dealer discussing the arrest and the vehicle stop.
He told the dealer he told Mehlhopt to "f..k it off, throw it out the window or I'll keep driving" before Mehlhopt put it down his pants.
Giving evidence Mehlhopt said he was using cocaine regularly on weekends and that he initially agreed to the plan to save money by buying it in Sydney.
In cross examination he said he was motivated by the "quality" because "it's the Gold Coast it, the quality of the drugs, were average" compared to Sydney.
Molloy gave evidence, telling the court Mehlhopt had asked him repeatedly if he "could get him in touch with someone".
The court heard he loaned Mehlhopt $10,000 on the agreement he would get $3000 cash and the proceeds of a third of the drugs.
But Judge David Wilson said both witnesses were "caught out giving evidence that was untruthful" and "they pointed the finger at each other".
"To describe the offenders' behaviour as acts of stupidity is a great understatement," Judge Wilson said.
He sentenced both men to two years jail, to be served as intensive corrections orders and ordered they perform 200 hours of community service work.
The court heard Molloy had previously moved to live with his mother at Yamba and Mehlhopt agreed he would live with a friend at Kingscliff so he could fulfil the residential condition of his sentence that he live in NSW.
Both men were also ordered not to associate with each other and abstain from illegal drugs.
Originally published as The embarrassing way drug runners were caught