3 men jailed for smuggling methylamphetamine into Australia

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3 men jailed for smuggling methylamphetamine into Australia

Three men, including the head of a sophisticated drug syndicate known as ethnic Brad Pitt, have received lengthy jail terms for their roles in the importation of 56 kilograms of methylamphetamine into WA.

Nikola Maksimovic, 35, Jason Gray, 48 and Quinn Newton, 44, were found guilty of arranging the importation, which involved bringing the drugs by rail in May 2019 to Perth from the eastern states.

The drugs had a purity of around 80 per cent and an estimated street value of between $4.5 million and $6.5 million.

They were packed in one-kilogram bags that were wrapped in rubbish bags, put in plastic tubs, and then concealed behind a sea container behind carpet underlay, insulation and bubble wrap.

The drugs were secretly swapped for an inert substance, and in the days before the importation, but unbeknown to the three men, police were onto them.

Gray and Newton flew from Victoria to Perth to conduct the handover to Maksimovic's syndicate, but they were watched by the police.

Gray was seen driving a hired van to the car park of a Belmont hardware store, where he hopped out, leaving the keys on top of one of the rear tyres.

Another car was pulled up next to it, and the driver, a member of Maksomovic's syndicate, was seen retrieving keys from the tyre.

He then transferred the plastic tubs into his vehicle and left $142,500 inside the hire car, which Gray and Newton paid for.

The drugs were reportedly driven to a property in South Lake for warehousing, but police arrived and raided the premises.

Gray and Newton were arrested at their hotel rooms where police found the cash that had been left in a hired van in the hardware store car park.

The members of the drug syndicate had usernames - Maksimovic's was ethnic Brad Pitt while others included beer monster temper and Ellendegenerit Maksimovic was tipped off that the importation had been uncovered and he fled to Thailand, leaving his wife and two children behind.

He returned in January 2020 believing that he was no longer a suspect, but he was unaware that a member of his syndicate was co-operating with police.

The court heard that those involved in the plan used encrypted mobile phones to communicate so that their messages and calls could not be deciphered.

Justice Anthony Derrick told Gray and Newton that they had played an important role in bringing a large amount of drugs into Western Australia.

He said that you were the essential conduits between the eastern state's supplier and the syndicate.

Justice Derrick said the men had committed the offence purely for a significant financial reward, knowing that the syndicate's intention was to distribute the drugs in the West Australian community.

He sentenced both men to 20 years in jail. They were made eligible for parole, meaning they will have to spend 18 years behind bars before they can be released.

Judge Derrick described Maksimovic as the top level of the drug distribution hierarchy in this state and the head of a large-scale and sophisticated drug dealing enterprise. He said there was no doubt that if the importation had been successful and the drugs distributed in the community would have caused immense harm, so he had to impose a sentence that would deter others.

Justice Derrick imposed a jail term of 24 years on the 35-year-old and he will have to serve 22 years before he can be released on parole.