Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Senior drug criminal lands another 18 years in gaol

Date of Publication: 
23 June 2015

Major drug criminal, 48-year-old Melbourne man Rob Karam, was today sentenced in the County Court of Victoria to an additional 18 years imprisonment for trafficking at least 336,906 ecstasy tablets, conspiring to possess 150kg of cocaine and conspiring to import 100kg of pseudoephedrine in 2008. Added to his previous sentence for his part in a major drug syndicate which conspired to possess 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy shipped to Australia in tomato tins, the total sentence is 37 years. A total non-parole period of 22 years was imposed on Karam in addition to time already served (3 years), meaning he will now remain in gaol until at least 2037, when he will be 70 years of age.

Karam pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding and abetting the trafficking of 11,000 MDMA tablets, and was found guilty by jury verdicts after a trial on the other three more serious charges. That trial ran for approximately 10 weeks in August – November 2014.

Karam has been serving a 19 year gaol sentence (non-parole period of 15 years) since 2012 for his role in one of Australia’s biggest drug busts — 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy – which had an estimated street value of $440 million. That importation was intercepted by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers in 2007 and sparked an intense investigation. Karam appealed that conviction and sentence to the Victorian Court of Appeal, which was rejected. He has since filed an application for special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia.

Thirty-two Australians who were members of a sophisticated international drug trafficking and money laundering syndicate were convicted and sentenced to gaol over the last three years, with syndicate leader Pasquale Barbaro receiving a head sentence of life imprisonment.

The original arrests occurred in 2008, and the prosecution of the syndicate has taken in excess of 6 years to complete.

CDPP Media Contact: or 02 6206 5708


Rob Karam was convicted and sentenced on 23 June 2015 in relation to:



  1. One count of trafficking a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug (MDMA) contrary to section 302.2(1) Criminal Code (Cth).
  2. One count of conspiracy to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug (cocaine) contrary to section 11.5(1) and section 307.5(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
  3. One count of conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled precursor (pseudoephedrine) contrary to section 11.5(1) and section 307.11(1) Criminal Code (Cth).
  4. One count of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the trafficking of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug (MDMA) contrary to section 11.2 and section 302.2(1) Criminal Code (Cth).




Further background on this drug syndicate can also be found on the Case Report of Pasquale Barbaro and Saverio Zirilli and the media release relating to the sentences of the 32 criminals who each played a role.