Bail for $300m MDMA import plot accused

·2-min read

A Sydney man accused of a plot to import $300 million of MDMA from the Netherlands into Australia has been granted bail.

Tony Spitaleri, 47, is charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of drugs and dealing with the proceeds of crime relating to the 850kg drug haul.

Spitaleri was one of two Sydney men to face charges following an Australian Federal Police operation.

He has remained in custody leading up to his formal application for bail in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday.

The duo is accused of being members of an Australian-based criminal syndicate that attempted to take possession of 150kg of MDMA in Queensland on October 30, 2019.

Dutch authorities - tipped off by the Australian Federal Police and Queensland officers in August 2019 - raided 15 locations in Belgium and Rotterdam, uncovering drug labs disguised to look like barns from the outside.

Hundreds of kilos of hard and liquid drugs, and drug paraphernalia were concealed within fake walls, floors and ceilings of the buildings.

In all, 850kg of crystalline methyl enedioxy methamphetamine or MDMA was seized, along with 548 litres of MDMA oil and 400 litres of precursor chemicals.

The haul has the potential to produce 15 million MDMA pills with a street value of more than $300 million.

"There is some debate about the strength of the crown case," lawyer Glen Rice for Spitaleri told the court.

"We accept that there is a very strong case against the overseas principals."

Surveillance footage captured by police shows Spitaleri collect a parcel but his knowledge of what the package contained would be a key issue at trial, Mr Rice said.

"There is no doubt that under surveillance, he is seen doing certain things such as handling packages ... but the issue is how much does he know?" Mr Rice aid.

"Was it drugs, was it cash? It was a package. That is as much as we know."

Justice Kerri Mellifon granted bail on strict conditions.

Spitaleri's next court date will be in Brisbane Magistrate Court on November 26.

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