What are the Penalties for Importing Border-Controlled Drugs into Australia?

By Scott Feeney and Jimmy Singh.

 

36-year-old Nathan Dulley and his 34-year-old brother, Andrew Dulley have admitted to exporting massive amounts of cocaine mixed through their chocolates in shipments to Australia.

The two brothers did this under the disguise of their California based chocolate business in shipments from Southern California to Australia.

Nathan and Andrew both had alcohol issues and their chocolate business was in financial trouble.

Nathan Dulley, established a relationship with a cocaine kingpin by the name of Owen Hanson, known as ‘O-dog’ of ODOG Enterprises.

The chocolatiers would then receive 10kg batches of cocaine at a time, intermixing and packaging the white powder with legitimate chocolate to bypass shipping agents, including the US and Australian customs authorities.

Once the chocolate drug shipments arrived in Australia, the ‘ODOG’ members would use their locally established networks to distribute the drugs.

Nathan and Andrew have both pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges. Both have been sentenced to imprisonment by a San Diego District court for 33 months and 25 months respectively.

 

Who is Owen Hanson AKA ‘O-Dog’?

Owen Hanson a onetime University of Southern California football star has been sentenced to more than 21 years and 3 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of drug trafficking and racketeering.

In addition, he also faces extradition to Australia on completion of his prison term, where he could face further jail time if found guilty of importing border-controlled drug charges.

Further to his current prison sentence, the court has also ordered that Hanson forfeit all of his assets, including 5 million dollars in cash, $100,000 worth of gold and silver coins, a Porsche Panamera, two range rovers, luxury watches, homes in Costa Rica, Peru and Cabo San Lucas, and a sailboat, including his interests in several businesses.

Hanson began dealing cocaine while in college and used his football connections to build a large client base.

This led him to become connected with Mexican and South American Cartels where he built a massive international empire.

Owen began his trade in Australia when he found he could sell a kilogram of cocaine in Australia for $175,000 USD ($243,467 AUD) compared to $20,000 USD in Los Angeles. He began using multiple organisations and companies sending packages to various addresses in Australia.

His downfall started when police were tipped off by a professional gambler, Robert J.Cipriani in 2011.

Further suspicion arose, which led police to more leads when in 2011, $702,000 AUD cash contained in a suitcase was discovered in a Sydney hotel room.

FBI and other authorities including NSW police officers swooped on Hanson at a golf course near San Diego in 2015. This led to his arrest along with 21 others being charged.

 

Who is Robert J. Cipriani- The Professional Gambler?

Hanson’s life of luxury was unravelled when he started making threats toward Philadelphian Robert J. Cipriani.

Cipriani, at the time was a professional high rolling blackjack player running a charity known as Robin Hood 702.

Cipriani established his relationship with Hanson in June 2011 when he believed him to be a wealthy investor intent on donating blackjack winnings to his charity.

In August 2011 Cipriani said he lost his nerve on his second sponsored trip to Sydney by Hanson.

Hanson presented Cipriani with $2.5 million dollars stuffed into two suitcases.

Cipriani immediately suspected he was being used as a pawn in a plan to launder money back to the United States.

Cipriani tried to knock back the offer to gamble with the money but was threatened if he didn’t take it.

This left him unsure of how to get out of the arrangement. This is when he came up with the idea of losing it all, at the table in Sydney’s Harbourside Crown Casino.

That’s exactly what he did, Cipriani played up to three hands at a time betting a whopping $20,000 on each.

When it was all gone and Unbeknownst to Hanson, Cipriani was refunded $250,000 in compensation by casinos management.

This is quite common for high rollers, however, it is usually on a prearranged basis of 20%.

He then tried to recoup the losses and got his bankroll back up to just over half a million dollars.

Cipriani then had to meet with Hanson in a restaurant at the casino.

He lied to Hanson saying he was down to his last $100,000. Hanson became furious and demanded Cipriani hand over his passport.

Instead, Cipriani cashed out his winnings, and went straight to the Airport to return home.

While heading to the airport Cipriani called the Hilton and told them a man staying in room 3026 had a gun.

Police were alerted and swooped on a man with over $700,00 stuffed in a suitcase.

When Cipriani returned to the United States instead of going home, he went on to Las Vegas where he says he was one hand away from winning back the entire $2.5 million.

Playing multiple hands in a single game, and with everything on the line he was poised to break even, the dealer however drew 21 and he lost it all.

Over the course of the next 4 years Hanson launched a terror campaign against Cipriani and his partner Greice Santo, sending them videos of actual beheadings using chainsaws and knives along with a written warning, “If you don’t pay us our money, this will happen to you.”

The final straw came for Cipriani in 2015 when his parent’s tombstones were splattered with red paint. This is when he approached the FBI to testify against Hanson.

Cipriani has now been banned from most Casinos for his involvement in the case against Hanson.

Cipriani has been informed by the FBI there would be no reward for his work as a confidential human source in the case.

Unable to make a living as a professional blackjack player, he now wants to sue the US Department of Justice for some of the cocaine baron’s $25 million in cash and assets that were seized.

Cipriani claims his information was crucial in the conviction and collapse of Hanson and ODOG Enterprises.

What are the Penalties for Importing Drugs into Australia?

A border-controlled drug includes MDMA, Cannabis, Cocaine, Heroin and GHB. There is a list of border-controlled drugs in Clause 1 of Schedule 2 Criminal Code Regulations 2019 (Cth).

‘Import’ under the law is when the border-controlled drug is transported and arrives into Australia where it gets delivered at a location where it remains from another country.

Anyone guilty of importing a border-controlled drug will face heavy penalties as follows:

  • If the importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs, the maximum penalty is up to life imprisonment and/or $1,575,000 fine under section 307.1 Criminal Code.
  • If importing a marketable quantity of border-controlled drugs, the maximum penalty is up to 25-years imprisonment and/or $1,050,000 fine under section 307.2 Criminal Code.
  • If importing any other quantity, the maximum penalty is up to 10-years imprisonment and/or $420,000 fine under section 307.3 Criminal Code.

Quantities differ based on the border-controlled drug, for example, marketable quantity for MDMA is 100g, while commercial quantity for it is 500g. Marketable quantity for cocaine is 250g, while commercial quantity for cocaine is 2kg.

To be guilty of importing a border-controlled drug from another country into Australia, the prosecution must first prove each of the following elements of this crime beyond reasonable doubt in court:

  1. A border-controlled drug was imported into Australia; and
  2. The person accused intended to import it; and
  3. The substance is in fact a ‘border-controlled drug’; and
  4. At the time of importing, the person accused was aware of a significant chance or real chance that the package containing the drugs was being imported was an illegal drug; and
  5. The court considers that in those circumstances, it was not justifiable for the accused person to have taken the risk of importing it notwithstanding that awareness.

If any of the above elements are not proven by the prosecution in court, the accused person will be found not guilty and acquitted of the charge.

Some defences to a charge of importing border-controlled drugs includes:

  • Where the person accused believed there was a mere possibility that the substance imported was an illicit drug.
  • Where the court accepts that there is a reasonable possibility that the person accused wasn’t aware that the substance was an illicit substance.
  • Where the person accused did not intend to import the substance containing the drugs.
  • Where the person accused did not actually import the drugs.
  • Where the importing was done due to duress or necessity.

Charged with importing or exporting a border-controlled drug in Australia can have significant consequences on your future.

If facing such drug charges, it is important to get urgent advice.

Our criminal defence lawyers are experts in drug charges and have a Sydney City office. We are available 24/7 and appear in all courts.

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