ACCUSED drug importers stopped off to buy power tools to smash open a luxury yacht where they had hidden a huge haul of cocaine, the Supreme Court in Brisbane has heard.
Police allegedly seized more than 66 kilograms of cocaine when they arrested a group of men on the Gold Coast on August 24, 2015.
Prosecutor Lincoln Crowley told the court the drugs were brought into the country on a yacht named the Solay, skippered by Estonian citizen Arthur Rivkin.
Mr Crowley said Mr Rivkin had sailed to Australia after stops in Ecuador, Fiji and Vanuatu and was greeted on his arrival to a berth in Coomera by UK citizen Martin Mayers.
“This wasn’t a pleasure cruise, this was a business trip. It was a sophisticated, coordinated criminal enterprise,” Mr Crowley told the court.
He said the pair stopped at a large hardware store and bought tools including angle grinders, wrecking bars and power cords that were used to access ‘hiding places’ in the yacht’s fibreglass hull.
Mr Crowley said the men then went to meet three others — Marko Maksimovic, Jordan Antic and Victor Jokic — at a nearby car park to complete a drug deal.
“The drugs were there ready to be handed over, but because police moved in and stopped the handover no-one ended up in possession,” he said.
Mr Crowley said police found 40 packages of ‘compressed white powder’ at the scene, before locating another 54 packages when they searched the Solay.
Mr Mayers is charged with importing a commercial quantity of drugs, while Mr Antic and Mr Jokicare facing charges of attempting to possess the drugs.
The trio, all in their 60s, pleaded not guilty on Monday, the opening day of their joint trial.
Mr Crowley said prosecution evidence would include hidden surveillance recordings and phone intercepts of discussions between some of the men.
Defence barrister Greg McGuire, acting for Mr Antic, said there was not enough evidence for prosecutors to prove beyond reasonable doubt his client knew Mr Mayers and Mr Rivkin had cocaine, and that Mr Antic was planning on taking it.
Mr McGuire said his client had accepted a job to take ‘bulky items’ and thought he would be packing chandeliers and kitchen equipment in his van, not blocks of wrapped cocaine.
“Had the police held off for a minute or so – even less – they would have known for sure if he was going to take it or not,” Mr McGuire said.
The trial, before Justice Helen Bowskill, is expected to run for up to three weeks and hear from more than 15 witnesses.