Painting used to smuggle drugs from Chile

THE cocaine smuggling was "sophisticated", one package worth almost $100,000 arriving at its Sunshine Coast recipients from Chile inside a painting.

Andre Marcello Munoz, in his early 20s, and his girlfriend, Jade Cory Salman, 19, were key members of the Pacific Paradise-based criminal enterprise which distributed the cocaine for sale on the Gold Coast and Sydney.

They were both sentenced in Brisbane Supreme Court in January to seven years' jail for their involvement in the day-to-day running of the business, which included finding houses to deliver the imported cocaine, accepting the packages and selling the cocaine.

But Munoz has fought the sentence in the Court of Appeal, arguing it was manifestly excessive because the judge refused to set a parole eligibility date.

Without a date set, Munoz would have to serve half the sentence behind bars.

Court of Appeal Justice Duncan McMeekin, in a decision handed down on Friday, said the cocaine was imported from Chile in a variety of ways, though police only intercepted one package.

He said the 193.5 grams, with 76% purity, could fetch a street value of up to $97,250.

"(Munoz) and his girlfriend received and shared 50% of the proceeds of the operation," he said.

Munoz argued that the sentencing judge did not give enough weight to his cocaine addiction, leaving school at grade five, living on the streets, his good behaviour since being caught and his good rehabilitation prospects.

But Justice McMeekin, agreed with two other Court of Appeal justices, rejected the submission.

He said Munoz entered a late guilty plea on the first day of a trial in the face of "an overwhelming prosecution case".

Justice McMeekin said Munoz's drug habit did not prevent him from "successfully conducting a sophisticated operation".

He said the sentencing judge gave due weight to all his appeal matters, noting she would not have been criticised for sending him to jail for a longer period.



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