A GOLD Coast drug kingpin who orchestrated the importation of 2.8 tonnes of cannabis, worth more than $30 million, into Queensland on domestic flights has pleaded guilty to drugs charges after the aggravating feature of his charges under bikie laws was dropped.
Joshua Paul Thornbury was in the Supreme Court this morning where he pleaded guilty to four charges: two counts of trafficking in drugs, one count of drug possession and one count of possession of property obtained by drug trafficking.
In a separate case, Thornbury has also pleaded guilty to a total of 160 charges mostly related to possession of stolen property charges in Southport District Court.
Some of the charges relate to the theft of $4.2 million worth of opals from high-profile businessman John Fish’s Hope Island home.
They were reportedly one of the world’s largest opal collections, and were found during police raids related to the drug ring.
That case is due in court next Monday.
In the Supreme Court in Brisbane this morning Thornbury, who is in custody, was casually dressed in a Rip Curl hooded jumper and tracksuit pants.
He admitted trafficking in cannabis between January 1, 2013 and April 6, 2014 and trafficking in ice between November 1, 2013 and April 16, 2014.
Prosecutor Michael Lehane told the court that the DPP would be dropping a charge of trafficking cannabis as a vicious lawless associate.
The “aggravating circumstance” under the VLAD laws, made lengthy sentences mandatory and on top of any sentence imposed for crimes such as drug trafficking.
Thornbury worked alongside his brother Terrence in the syndicate. Terrence has pleaded guilty and is set to be sentenced along side his brother on November 28.
Prosecutors allege Joshua had a more “hands on managerial role” than Terrence, organising the money, drugs and couriers.
He played puppetmaster for six drug mules who carried $15 million in cash on flights to Melbourne to pay for the drugs — then carried the drugs back to Brisbane and the Gold Coast in checked-in luggage.
The drugs were compressed and wrapped in vacuum sealed bags which were then wrapped in bed sheets soaked in air freshener or perfume, and then wrapped in another vacuum sealed bag.
Mr Lehane told the court it was likely that the Melbourne man alleged to have supplied the drugs to the Thornburys would plead guilty before his trial which is set down for November 28.
Mato Civcija, who has been charged with trafficking, is alleged to be the link to the Melbourne cannabis suppliers.
Police charged 36 people as part of the operation.