Authorities allege aspiring Australian druglords Leo Yan Lai Cheung and Dimitrios Gountounas were anxiously awaiting their first shipment of Mexican methamphetamine into Sydney this week when officers swooped.
The pair were keen to see if a new associate had been able to source $50 million worth of ice from the infamous Central and South American drug market, NSW court documents show.
They allegedly planned to later import $150 million worth of cocaine.
Cheung, 40, and Gountounas, 41, had allegedly messaged and met with the source multiple times since March 2017.
The associate was actually a police operative and their efforts to import large amounts of “eye”, or ice, from Mexico and eventually “nose”, or cocaine, from Colombia were being recorded.
The alleged conspirators agreed the test shipment should be 50 kilograms of ice to build trust between the new connection and the international syndicate Cheung and Gountounas had spent the past year working for.
“They’re not just gunna do a tonne on the first one,” Gountounas said at a meeting on June 9, police documents state.
“What we want is a long-term relationship.”
A month later, however, Cheung doubled the consignment to 100kg to “make it more profitable for all parties and more rewarding for the effort”.
Cheung and Gountounis hoped the new connection could help them break away from the syndicate and start their own operation, NSW Police allege.
The 100kg of the drug, plus an extra kilo thrown in “just in case”, was quickly intercepted by Mexican Federal Police who’d been co-operating with the US Drug Enforcement Agency and Australia authorities.
It was replaced with a fake substitute to continue on its journey to Sydney.
At the same time, Gountounas began organising with the Sydney police operative to import “project 2” – 500kg of cocaine from Colombia, the court documents show.
The Sydney operative arranged to hand the drugs over to Cheung and Gountounis’ alleged drivers – South Australians Cameron Fraser, 48, and 46-year-old Jason Kuerschner – on Thursday.
A van with the meth was handed over to Fraser and Keurschner about 10am on Thursday but police followed them to the Novotel hotel in Pyrmont.
The pair was arrested in the hotel’s car park.
A short time later, Cheung was arrested at a home in Sydney.
South Australian police arrested Gountounis at his Adelaide home.
A 36-year-old woman, so far unnamed, was also arrested.
Cheung, Fraser and Kuerschner appeared before Sydney’s Central Local Court on Friday.
They are expected to apply for bail on November 14.
Gountounis was remanded in custody in Adelaide Magistrates Court and will appear again in January.
The woman will face an Adelaide court in December.