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No verdict for tradie over alleged MDMA import attempt

A jury has been unable to reach a verdict following the trial of a Sydney construction boss over an alleged attempt to possess MDMA imported from the UK.

Tony Maaz, 35, pleaded not guilty to attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and possessing the suspected proceeds of crime.

The trial in the NSW District Court ended in a hung jury with no verdict reached on Wednesday.

Maaz remains on bail until his case is mentioned in court again on March 24.

Maaz purchased an orange Doosan excavator through an online auction site he'd previously bought construction equipment from before it was shipped to one of his company's building sites in Sydney's west.

Prior to the purchase, Australian Border Force became suspicious of an X-ray taken after the 42-tonne excavator arrived at Port of Brisbane from Southampton, in the UK, in March 2020.

Australian Federal Police officers examined it, finding and removing 226 bags containing a crystalline substance later identified as MDMA with an estimated wholesale value of more than $13 million.

Surveillance devices and a location tracker were fitted before the excavator continued to the Gold Coast, where it was listed for auction.

Crown prosecutor David Barrow told the jury Maaz was the only person who bid on the auction the day it went live, eclipsing what he called a "secret reserve".

Maaz had previously purchased equipment from the site, another excavator from a separate auction platform and placed two similar Doosan excavators on his watchlist without bidding on them, before purchasing the one examined at the Port of Brisbane.

The orange Doosan excavator remained on the Blacktown building site for about seven months before the AFP seized it and charged Maaz on December 9, 2020.