- Police seized a record amount of cocaine after busting a Sydney drug syndicate
- The men allegedly tried to bring drugs into Australia from Chile on five occasions
- Fijian police seized a heroin shipment and 606kg of cocaine was found in Tahiti
- The men botched two other shipments before police dismantled the ring
A drug syndicate that tried to smuggle more than a tonne of cocaine into Australia bungled several operations before its members were arrested following Christmas Day raids.
All 15 men involved in the 'sophisticated' Sydney-based drug ring were charged with conspiring to import a border controlled substance after police honed in on a 500 kilogram haul of cocaine allegedly smuggled into Australia on a fishing trawler.
A two-year investigation following a tip-off from a member of the public who saw the men acting suspiciously led police to the Christmas Day seizure - with an estimated value of $15million.
But court documents reveal a series of blunders made by the men involved in the drug smuggling operation - including getting lost in the open ocean and being discovered by an innocent boat captain - that may have led to their undoing.
Police allege the group had been sending the Sydney-based fishing trawler Dalrymple to meet with international drug distributors from Chile before carrying the illegal haul back to Australian waters.
Investigators claim the 15-man syndicate was made up of experienced maritime workers who helped bring the drugs into the country and another arm of businessmen and entrepreneurs responsible for distributing the narcotics.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, each of the five shipments police allege the group conspired to bring into the country were monitored by the Australian Federal Police, New South Wales Police and Australian Border Force officers.
Before a 32-kilogram shipment of heroin was picked up by Fijian authorities in December and a larger 606 haul of cocaine was intercepted by the French Navy off Tahiti in March this year - the group had two other failed operations.
Australian authorities observed the group on as they tried to meet up with one of their distributors, but were reportedly unable to pick up the stash after the wrong GPS co-ordinates were input and they could not locate the ship.
On another occasion, a captain became aware his boat was being used to smuggle drugs and abandoned ship - leaving the haul stranded out to sea.
According to the Daily Telegraph, members continued to secretly listen in on the men's plans as they discussed shipment routes, member recruits and financing the operation in code on encrypted phones.
Alleged ringleader Joseph Pirrello, 68, was reportedly overheard giving explicit instructions to members of the group about the smuggling venture.
Pirrello and fisherman Reuben John Dawe - who reportedly met on the Tasmanian trawler Megisti Star - were among the first arrested on Christmas Day after police waited for Simon Spero to drive the inflatable boat packed with cocaine to shore at Parsley Bay, north of Sydney.
The musclebound businessman sat handcuffed in the gutter while police counted wads of cash found in his possession - totalling almost $4,000.
Scenes of his arrest were in stark contrast to the tattooed 42-year-old's online persona, which shows Mohr tanning on remote beaches, wearing designer suits at prestigious yacht clubs and flying high on a private helicopter.
Police visited Zetland, Double Bay, Kingsford, and Greenacre where they took Richard Lipton, 37, Frank D'Agostino, 54, Benjamin Sara, 31, and Jonathan Cooper, 29, into custody.
Sara, an entrepreneur from Greenacre, had also shared images of extravagant cars, designer shoes and trips overseas prior to his arrest.
Michael and Francesco Pirrello, who claim to have no relation to Joseph Pirello, were arrested at Ulladulla, on the NSW south coast, on Wednesday as police swooped on fishing boss James Collins, 63, in Hobart and Peter Spero, 49, in Brisbane.
All 15 men have faced court and were denied bail.
They are expected to re-appear in March and face life imprisonment if found guilty.
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