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Cocaine drama: 'Honey, we'll never have to work again'

THE payoff could have been huge - at least $11 million.

Instead, a Colombian cocaine importer was jailed for 22 years after allegedly telling his wife "Honey, we'll never have to work again."

Queensland Court of Appeal heard stories resembling episodes of cocaine crime drama Narcos as Juan Pablo Ocampo Alvarez sought to appeal his sentence.

He's no Pablo Escobar, but spoke of drug cartels and death threats on Monday.

Alvarez was jailed in April 2016 for his role in a smuggling plot linking Mackay with Colombia and Panama.

While at one point saying he was coerced into the racket, Alvarez also said an innocent chat with his wife was used against him.

"I was under somebody else's command ... they would be killing me or my family," Alvarez said on Monday.

In 2011, cocaine with a street value estimated at between $11 million and $20 million was intercepted in Melbourne, in oil drums shipped from Panama.

Cops had been tracking the smugglers since 2009.

Alvarez was arrested soon after with two other Colombians, and a local millionaire in Mackay.

 

Alvarez was handed a 14 year, 8 month non-parole term.

Dressed in a grey suit and spectacles, Alvarez said on Monday his involvement in the plot even caused "tension between different cartels".

And he said his wife's life was in danger when he took part in cocaine smuggling.

"I have nothing to do with drugs. I consider that I was the victim, always."

But Alvarez also told the court he had evidence the conspiracy began "in Argentina".

And he sought to supply a new translation of what he told his wife in Spanish.

Alvarez claimed he told his wife "We won't have to work", and the term "any more" was wrongly added to one translation.

Alvarez said he was excited about a new job as a diesel fitter on mines.

"It has nothing to do about drugs or money, as was inferred by the judge."

But Chief Justice Catherine Holmes said the new translation was only slightly different.

The phrase "with what's coming, we won't have to work" remained problematic, she said.

"It's expressed in terms of both of you not having to work. It could not be explained away by the reference to your being a diesel fitter."

Alvarez said another affidavit proved he was seeking legitimate work at the time of the cocaine plot.

But Chief Justice Holmes said having or seeking a legitimate job could be "a useful cover" while importing drugs.

Prosecutor Glen Rice said there was no proof any threats were made towards Alvarez.

The court reserved its decision.

TIMELINE

2008: Juan Pablo Ocampo Alvarez meets an Australian man in Colombia.

Apr 2009: Ocampo Alvarez arrives in Australia.

Oct 2009: Police start investigating the importation scheme.

Jan and Feb 2010: Ocampo Alvarez returns to Colombia. He contacts German Rendon Alvarez, who goes to Panama to source cocaine.

Jul 2010: Rendon Alvarez arrives in Australia, living with Ocampo Alvarez in Sydney.

Aug 2010: Alexis Giovany Gomez Ruiz arrives in Australia. He stays with both Alvarezes and gets involved in the drug importation scheme.

Aug 2010: An oil shipment is sent from South America without cocaine as a test run. It arrives in Sydney in September, then shipped to Brisbane.

Apr 2011: Another oil shipment - with cocaine - is sent from Panama.

May 2011: Shipment arrives in Melbourne with 600 drums of hydraulic oil. Cops find coke hidden in 17 drums and officers take samples. Container then continues to Brisbane, then by rail to Mackay.

May 2011: The AFP arrest a Mackay businessman and three Colombians.

Apr 2016: The three men are sentenced to various jail terms for their involvement.

2018: Ocampo Alvarez appeals the severity of his sentence.

-NewsRegional 

Topics:  afp argentina brisbane court cocaine colombia drug smuggling juan pablo ocampo alvarez mackay mackay court narcos panama sydney

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