PNG drug plane accused makes bid for bail

A BAR owner who was allegedly part of a Melbourne-based crime gang who were attempting to import huge amounts of cocaine from Papua New Guinea into Mareeba has been denied bail despite family friends offering to put up a $1 million surety.

Aiden Anis Khoder, 31, was one of five men charged over the failed plot which came to light after a plane, allegedly overloaded with 500kg of cocaine, crashed while trying to take off in PNG in late July.

Police arrested three men in FNQ accused of being part of a conspiracy to import cocaine into Australia through Mareeba Airport, from Papua New Guinea.
Police arrested three men in FNQ accused of being part of a conspiracy to import cocaine into Australia through Mareeba Airport, from Papua New Guinea.

He has been remanded in custody in Lotus Glen Correctional Centre since, facing six charges including conspiracy to import commercial quantities of cocaine, importing commercial quantities of cocaine, directing activities of a criminal syndicate, laundering more than $1m of dirty cash and dealing in proceeds of crime.

The Cairns Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday, if found guilty he would face a mammoth jail term between 25-30 years.

Surveillence footage of a plane at Mareeba Airport.
Surveillence footage of a plane at Mareeba Airport.

His barrister Justin Greggory argued for his release on bail, proposing the significant surety, along with Mr Khoder wearing a GPS tracking device and home detention aside from working in his family's Melbourne restaurant and visiting his lawyer or court.

But Magistrate Joe Pinder declared he represented an unacceptable risk of both failing to appear and committing further offences and refused bail.

Commonwealth prosecutor Daniel Whitmore said Mr Khoder was a serious flight risk given his access to a plane, a boat, fake IDs and "massive amounts of money".

 

"He has the incentive to abscond and the means and ability to abscond," he said.

He argued he was also a risk of reoffending, having allegedly begun masterminding this plot a short time after being released from jail for drug trafficking.

Magistrate Pinder rated the case against him as "reasonably strong" involving phone intercepts and surveillance which included shots of him purchasing a part for a plane on the Tablelands which was allegedly used to "kick start" the aircraft before its doomed flight.

The gang allegedly planned to drive the drugs by truck from FNQ to Melbourne hidden under a load of gyprock.
The gang allegedly planned to drive the drugs by truck from FNQ to Melbourne hidden under a load of gyprock.

Police have alleged the group, with Italian crime links, successfully imported 300kg of cocaine - potentially worth up to $90m - in 2018 and the 500kg batch would have been worth up to $160m.

It is alleged they were planning to hide the drugs in a retrofitted truck filled with gyprock and drive it from the Tablelands to Melbourne.

The case was adjourned until November 25.

Originally published as PNG drug plane accused makes bid for bail


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