Mackay's Colombian coke ring cops jail time

IT HAS been almost seven years since police started investigating a Mackay-based multi-million dollar cocaine importation scheme and three Colombian men involved have now been sentenced for their involvement.

One of the men has been sentenced to 22 years jail.

The elaborate plot, which allegedly started with a Mackay businessman, was to hide cocaine in hydraulic oil and ship it from South America to Australia.

What those involved did not know was that police had been watching them.

When the shipment of cocaine arrived in Melbourne in May 2011, police took samples and found 17 of the 600 oil drums contained the drug.

All up, 71kg of pure cocaine was found and was estimated to have been worth between $11.5 million and $15 million.

The three Colombians - German Rendon Alvarez, Juan Pablo Ocampo Alvarez and Alexis Giovany Gomez Ruiz - were charged with conspiring to import and traffic a commercial quantity of drugs.

Sentence hearings for the three men, who required Spanish interpreters, have been held in Brisbane intermittently since last year and proceedings were finalised on Tuesday when Supreme Court Justice Debra Mullins sentenced them.

Ocampo Alvarez, 29, was involved almost from the beginning and was sentenced to 22 years jail with a non-parole period of 14 years and eight months.

Justice Mullins said he had a significant role in the scheme and had worked on a plan to import the drugs since 2009.

She also said he was an "intelligent man" who made a bad decision to involve himself in the cocaine importation plot.

Taking into account time he has spent behind bars, Ocampo Alvarez will be due for release on parole in about nine years.

Rendon Alvarez, 47, was sentenced to 18 years jail with a non-parole period of 10 years.

Justice Mullins said he was an enthusiastic participant in hiding the cocaine in hydraulic fluid and that he knew how to extract the drug from the oil once it reached Mackay.

She also said he had pleaded guilty earlier than the other two men and had been injured while in prison, which she took into account in his sentence.

He will be due for parole in about five years.

Gomez Ruiz, 35, was sentenced to 14 years jail with a non-parole period of nine years and four months.

The court heard he became involved in the scheme after he started living with the other two men.

Justice Mullins also said he had written a letter to the court, apologising to the Australian people for his offending.

"In that letter you observe that after having seen the negative effects on the lives of other inmates due to drugs, you express your awareness now of the damage that drugs cause to society," she said.

He will be due to be released on parole in about four years. - ARM NEWSDESK


  • 2008: Juan Pablo Ocampo Alvarez meets with an Australian man in Colombia.
  • April 2009: Ocampo Alvarez arrives in Australia.
  • October 2009: Police start investigating the drug importation scheme.
  • January and February 2010: Ocampo Alvarez returns to Colombia. He marries his fiance. He contacts German Rendon Alvarez who goes to Panama to source cocaine.
  • July 2010: Rendon Alvarez arrives in Australia. He and Ocampo Alvarez live together in Sydney.
  • August 2010: Alexis Giovany Gomez Ruiz arrives in Australia. He stays with Ocampo Alvarez and Rendon Alvarez and becomes involved in the drug importation scheme within a month.
  • August 2010: An oil shipment is sent from South America without cocaine as a test run. It arrives in Sydney in September and is shipped to Brisbane.
  • April 2011: Another oil shipment - with cocaine - is sent from Panama.
  • May 2011: Shipment arrives in Melbourne. It contains 600 drums of hydraulic oil. Police find cocaine hidden in 17 drums and officers take samples. Container then continues its journey to Brisbane and then by rail to Mackay.
  • May 27, 2011: Australian Federal Police arrest a Mackay businessman and the three Colombians.
  • April 2013: Two of the Colombian nationals are committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court. They later change their pleas to guilty.
  • May 2014: The third man - Rendon Alvarez - pleads guilty.
  • April 19, 2016: The three men are sentenced to various jail terms for their involvement.

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