NSW Police Commisioner Andrew Scipione, and AFP Commisioner Andrew Colvin speak to the media in 2014. Picture: Australian Federal Police
NSW Police Commisioner Andrew Scipione, and AFP Commisioner Andrew Colvin speak to the media in 2014. Picture: Australian Federal Police

Forklift driver ‘promised $10K’ to smuggle $1.5b of drugs

LESS  than 48 hours after taking part in one of the biggest drug importations in Australian history, Deo Narayan waited to meet his alleged accomplice at a Sydney McDonald's.

The forklift driver says he feared for his family's safety after accepting $10,000 to help smuggle a shipping container full of ice and ecstasy worth $1.5 billion into the country from Germany in 2014.

The rollover witness is giving evidence at the District Court trial of Mehmet Ozgen, Jason Drollet, Solomone Vukici and Philip Ian Bishop in exchange for immunity.

Mr Narayan, who worked at the Chess Moving warehouse in Blacktown, told police at the time he'd been promised "$10,000 plus more afterwards just to move a container."

The shipping container was full of ice and ecstasy. Picture: Australian Federal Police
The shipping container was full of ice and ecstasy. Picture: Australian Federal Police

 

The estimated value of the container was $1.5 billion. Picture: Australian Federal Police
The estimated value of the container was $1.5 billion. Picture: Australian Federal Police

But he soon learned that hours after keeping his end of the bargain, the plan had gone horribly wrong.

"Did you watch the news last night?" Bishop asked Mr Narayan when he arrived at the fast food restaurant on Sunday November 30, Sydney's Downing Centre court heard.

Police had been tracking the illicit shipment since it arrived in Australia from Hamburg a week earlier and followed the delivery to the Blacktown warehouse on the Friday night.

They then busted six men - including Drollet, Vukici and Ozgen - after they allegedly transported the unmarked boxes and were unpacking them at a Smithfield factory unit in the early hours of Saturday November 29.

The massive seizure stopped 10 million pills and the nation's largest ice seizure at the time from hitting the streets.

Mr Narayan said while at the Campbelltown Maccas he told Bishop he wanted to confess to police and hand over the cash, but the Chess sales manager asked him not to turn himself in, saying he'd keep the money safe for him.

The court heard the pair had been intimidated after Mr Narayan delayed moving the container by a day, with Bishop later suggesting that they ask for $100,000 instead.

"He said people came around to his place and started threatening him, his family, and (Chess owner Chris Van Cuylenberg)," Mr Narayan said on Tuesday.

"I was confused, scared because of the people coming to my place. And then I definitely decided to (move) the container."

The massive seizure stopped 10 million pills from hitting the streets. Picture: Australian Federal Police
The massive seizure stopped 10 million pills from hitting the streets. Picture: Australian Federal Police

 

It is one of the country’s biggest seizures at the time. Picture: Australian Federal Police
It is one of the country’s biggest seizures at the time. Picture: Australian Federal Police

But after the bust, Bishop suggested if they kept their mouths shut about their payments "we'll look like victims of crime."

"I told him you do whatever you want, I'll do whatever I want from now," Mr Narayan told the jury.

The witness said he'd ignored instructions when positioning the container in full view of warehouse security cameras, thinking "hopefully police will get the bad guys."

Mr Narayan denied already knowing some CCTV cameras weren't working that night, or that alarms had been switched off.

And Mr Narayan said he "wasn't thinking straight" when he later deleted his phone's entire call history prior to Sunday November 30.

He'd made several calls to somebody known as 'Jason' who'd left a blue plastic bag full of cash in his forklift, but the crown doesn't allege this man is Drollet.

 

Mr Narayan said the night the drugs arrived at Chess he tried to back out of the plan, telling 'Jason' that "the boss' son is here, I'm not going to do it."

He was referring to Chess executive Cameron VanCuylenberg, but 'Jason' told Mr Narayan to do it anyway, adding that Chris VanCuylenberg's brother Lui who ran operations knew about the plot, the court heard.

When Mr Narayan came to work on the Monday he admitted to all three members of the VanCuylenberg family his involvement with the scheme and Chess founder Chris called police.

Mr Narayan said the next day he was ordered to take paid leave and was later sacked.

The trial before Judge John Pickering continues.