Colombian cocaine importer loses appeal

Christine Flatley

A man who tried to bring more than 70kg of cocaine suspended in hydraulic oil into Australia from Colombia has lost an appeal against his 22-year sentence.

Juan Pablo Ocampo Alvarez was one of four men who organised bringing the drums of hydraulic oil containing the drugs under the guise of a legitimate business importation.

They tested the route - from Colombia to Melbourne via Panama - in August 2010 by bringing in a preliminary shipment of drug-free oil.

The real importation took place almost a year later when 600 drums of oil, including 17 drums with a suspension of cocaine, arrived.

It was intercepted, with authorities calculating the cocaine weighed at least 71.6kg.

Ocampo Alvarez pleaded guilty on the first day of his Brisbane Supreme Court trial to conspiring to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and to conspiring to traffic cocaine.

He was ordered to serve at least 14 years and eight months of his 22-year sentence before he is eligible for parole.

He argued in the Court of Appeal that this sentence was manifestly excessive.

He argued the judge failed to accept his claims he was pressured into participating in the scheme because of threats against his family.

He also asserted the sentencing judge didn't take into account mitigating factors like his young age and good behaviour while in jail awaiting trial.

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday dismissed his arguments, finding all factors had been given appropriate weight.