Accused drug importers face court
THE Port of Bundaberg was chosen by accused drug smugglers as the destination for about 300kg of imported cocaine because it was small and boasted less law enforcement, federal police believe.
Australian Federal Police manager of serious and organised crime Commander David Sharpe said it was common for drug runners to use regional ports.
"I think it's probably because of the size of Bundaberg," he said.
Commander Sharpe said the attraction of regional areas was the fact there was less law enforcement than in metropolitan ports.
He said the drug syndicate had also tried to use the annual Port 2 Port rally as a unique way to reduce suspicion.
"In the past we haven't identified that (kind of method)," he said.
The four Spanish nationals charged with importing the cocaine into the country faced court today.
The three men and one woman, Julia Maria Boada Fernandez, 37, Jose Herrero-Calvo, 38, Ivan Maria Ramos Valea, 35, and Miguel Angel Sanchez Barrocal, 39, appeared in the docks of Bundaberg Magistrates Court charged with importing commercial quantities of border-controlled drugs.
Lawyer Thomas Bray appeared for the four and asked for their matters to be set down for a committal mention at the next Commonwealth Court callover on January 12, which Magistrate John Smith allowed.
The four accused drug importers stayed silent for most of the appearance, but Fernandez broke into tears several times.