- Last Updated: 3:21 PM, May 24, 2012
- Posted: 8:11 AM, May 24, 2012
MELBOURNE, Australia -- A man believed to be Australia's biggest drug trafficker and behind the world's largest ecstasy haul was jailed for life with a minimum 30 years, it was revealed Thursday.
Pasquale Barbaro, 50, and his cousin Saverio Zirilli, 55, were hit with minimum 30-year and 18-year sentences respectively over the international drug ring conspiracy involving 4.85 tons of ecstasy and almost 100kg of cocaine.
"The profit expected to be garnered from the possession and sale of those drugs ran into the hundreds of millions," Justice Betty King said in handing down her sentence to the farmers in the Supreme Court of Victoria.
The details of her rulings were revealed following the guilty findings of four other men after a jury brought in verdicts Thursday. The sentence handed to Barbaro, the son of a Calabrian immigrant, was believed to be the most significant prison term of its type in the state's history.
"The amount that you sought to possess was the largest amount of ecstasy ever seized in this country," King said. "It was, at the time of the seizure, the highest amount of ecstasy seized in the world. The cost of the tablets was multiple millions. The profit expected to be garnered from the possession and sale of those drugs ran into the hundreds of millions."
King added, "You, Barbaro, were at the apex of that criminality -- the very top of the tree in this country. Whilst others may possibly be at a level just below you, it is clear that you were the one that took on the debt [from European suppliers] and gave the orders. The only explanation for your involvement is one of massive greed."
King said the ecstasy, hidden in tomato cans aboard a shipment from Italy, was intercepted by Customs and Australian Federal Police -- resulting in a debt being owed by the Australian arm of the syndicate and seeing Barbaro buying more drugs from his overseas suppliers to cover the losses.
At one point, Barbaro contacted a reporter at the Herald Sun newspaper to try to bring publicity to the ecstasy bust so that his overseas suppliers did not think he was trying to "rip them off."
To read more, go to the Herald Sun