Three Canadians who were involved in the trafficking of 650 kilograms of ephedrine hidden in vanilla powder jars have been gaoled. Forty-eight-year-old Edmond Proko, 28-year-old James Wray Kelsey and 31- year-old Catherine Marie McNaughton, were sentenced today in the Melbourne’s County Court for their separate roles in trafficking jars of chemicals capable of producing deadly drugs.
Proko was sentenced to an effective head sentence of 14 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of nine years. Kelsey was sentenced to an effective head sentence of eight years imprisonment with a non-parole period of five years. McNaughton was sentenced to four years and nine months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of two years and six months.
During the two-week trial, the court heard how the trio travelled to Australia entering on Canadian passports. Proko arrived in July 2013 and Kelsey and McNaughton arrived in September 2013. Whilst in Australia, they were involved in trafficking large quantities of drugs of dependence, namely ephedrine, which were housed at storage facilities located in South Melbourne Port Melbourne.
The drugs were contained in boxes, which held numerous jars of white powder, labelled Wilson Flavours Vanilla Powder 1 kg. During the execution of a search warrant on 18 September 2013 at Austpac Self Storage, police located 22 cardboard boxes containing the jars, which were analysed and found to contain 655.9 kilograms of white powder (with an estimated purity of 31.1% ephedrine), and therefore containing 189.6 kilograms of pure ephedrine.
As part of a joint operation between federal and state police known as Operations Diamondback, it culminated after a two-and-half-year operation and arrests were made in late 2012.
The case presented by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) showed the sophisticated nature of the methods used by the offenders to traffick large quantities of ephedrine, which is a precursor chemical used to manufacture methamphetamine, more commonly known as ‘ice’.
CDPP Deputy Director, David Adsett said, ‘drug crime traffickers seek to profit from the production and distribution of illicit drugs. Law enforcement agencies are increasingly intercepting these criminal activities and the sentences imposed in this case clearly demonstrate the seriousness. When you are convicted of such crimes, be aware that you’ll face the prospect of very lengthy terms of imprisonment.’
CDPP Media Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 6206 5708
Edmond Proko was found guilty, following a trial by jury of:
- two counts of trafficking in a drug of dependence, namely ephedrine in not less than a large commercial quantity, contrary to section 71 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic).
- three counts of trafficking in a drug of dependence, namely ephedrine in not less than a commercial quantity, contrary to section 71AA of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic).
- one count of trafficking in a drug of dependence, namely ephedrine in not less than a commercial quantity, contrary to section 71AA of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic).