Adrian Franze jailed for 17 years over drug importation

A Melbourne property developer and bar owner who attempted to possess 14 kilograms of cocaine and 133 kilograms of methamphetamine with a street value of $14 million has been sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Nanjing Night Net

Adrian Franze, 33, co-owned Chapel Street venue the Destino Latin Bar along with a friend called Anthony Sitar, who is on an Interpol watch list after fleeing the country when he was charged over the plot to import the drugs, which were liquefied and hidden inside beer bottles from Mexico.

The Supreme Court heard during the trial that in October 2011, authorities checked a shipment of 672 boxes of Cucapa beer imported from Mexico and found traces of cocaine and methamphetamine. Listening devices were then hidden in the boxes.

Sitar and Franze then arranged for the boxes to be stored at a property in Sunshine leased by an employee of Sitar’s.

Australian Federal Police had the property under surveillance, and the co-conspirators became suspicious. They dumped the van in which they transported the beer in Toorak Road, South Yarra, and checked into a serviced apartment in Brighton.

Another man, who cannot be named, later went to the Sunshine property in the early hours of October 26, loaded the beer into another vehicle and took it to a property in Yarraville.

By this stage, the co-conspirators were becoming increasingly convinced they were under surveillance, and when police finally arrested the other man at the Yarraville property, he was trying to pour the beer down a drain.

Franze handed himself into the Australian Federal Police the next day, while Sitar fled.

During his trial, Franze claimed he only became aware the bottles contained drugs when Sitar told him while they moved the bottles to the Sunshine property. He said Sitar had gambling debts, and that he only helped him out of loyalty to a friend.

In sentencing, Justice Stephen Kaye said he accepted that Sitar was the organiser of the importation but said that Franze played “an important, and substantial, role in the enterprise”.

“No reason was proffered on your plea as to why you might have become involved in the enterprise. The inevitable inference is that you succumbed to the lure of the potentially enormous profits, which might be derived from dealing with the substantial amounts of the substances that were involved in the enterprise,” Justice Kaye said.

Justice Kaye sentenced Franze to a minimum of 13 years, taking into account the fact Franze’s wife suffers from depression, anxiety and severe panic attacks, and that Franze is hard-working, industrious and has only a minor criminal record.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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