One of eight men charged over Australia’s largest ever seizure of methamphetamine has admitted his role in the importation of the drug.
Joshua Joseph Smith pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing a commercial quantity of methamphetamine over the seizure of 1.2 tonnes of the drug in the WA coastal city of Geraldton in December last year.
The drugs had an estimated street value of $1.04 billion.
Smith, from New South Wales, appeared in the Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court today via video link from Hakea prison, where he has been held since his arrest.
He appeared with his six of his seven co-accused, who are also in custody, but they did not enter pleas to the charges against them.
The court was told the seventh man, Patrick Leonardo Bouhamdan, is currently in hospital.
Smith will appear in WA’s Supreme Court for sentencing in June.
The other seven men, including Mr Bouhamdan, were also remanded in custody until May, although the lawyer for South Australian man, Stephen John Baxter, said he would be making an application for bail next month.
Bags of drugs allegedly offloaded from boat
The men were charged after the Australian Federal Police and its WA Joint Organised Crime Task Force monitored a boat, called the Valkoista, when it arrived at the Geraldton Port in the early hours of Thursday, December 21 last year.
(ABC News: Jessica Hayes)
It is alleged the drugs were offloaded into a white hire van before it was intercepted by officers from the Tactical Response Group as it reversed from the dock.
Police said 59 bags each containing about 20 kilograms of methamphetamine — commonly known as “ice” — were seized from the van, while another 20 kilogram bag was allegedly found on board the boat.
It is believed the drugs originated in China.
The meth bust was the largest in Australian history, topping a 903-kilogram seizure in Melbourne earlier this year.
Based on National Wastewater Drug Monitoring results, the haul would have been enough to feed the meth appetite of the entire country for two months.