The social media lifestyle of one of five men charged over a “significant” drug trafficking operation in Canberra was “incompatible” with his reported income, police claim.
Five men, including a father and son, faced a string of charges in the ACT Magistrates Court today after a number of raids across the weekend resulted in $1.5 million in seized assets.
Police said bank accounts, jewellery, cars and motorbikes and over $100,000 in cash were among the items seized.
According to a statement of facts tendered to the court, police alleged one of the men, Brendan Leigh Baker, 26, “boasted” on social media about owning a $70,000 Mercedes, a cafe on the Kingston foreshore and “taking spontaneous overseas holidays”.
Police said Baker also bragged about purchasing a large block of land on which he “intended to build a six-bedroom home”.
According to officers, in the 2015-16 financial year Baker received the Centrelink New Start Allowance and claimed an additional income of just $7,756.
But police alleged that records they obtained showed cash deposits of more than $81,000 were made into Baker’s accounts between January 2015 and February 2017.
Court documents also revealed some of those cash deposits were allegedly placed in Baker’s account just prior to him making loan repayments for the Mercedes.
“The cash deposits into [Baker’s] bank account indicate he was able to draw on an unexplained source of cash during this period,” police said.
“Further, the large-scale purchases of vehicles, property and businesses [were] incompatible with [Baker’s] legitimate income.”
Police alleged Baker also purchased a money counting machine from eBay to help process the cash repayments he was allegedly receiving.
Three of five men remanded in custody
In court today, Baker faced 12 charges relating to drug trafficking, importation and money laundering, and was denied bail.
Four other men faced court alongside Baker, including a father and son.
Corey James Conomos, 18, was charged with drug trafficking in January last year, attempting to pervert the court of justice and possessing a prohibited weapon.
He did not enter a plea or apply for bail.
His father, Jason Wayne Conomos, 37, entered not guilty pleas to charges of being knowingly concerned to the commission of an offence, possessing an unregistered and prohibited firearm and perverting the course of justice.
He was granted bail with conditions.
Owen Roscoe Oswald Turnbull was charged with six counts of trafficking MDMA between January and April this year. He did not make an application for bail or enter a plea.
A fifth man, Brett Peter Thoms, 34, was charged with trafficking MDMA and cocaine in April this year.
His lawyer told the court Thoms ran a local business and required bail to ensure it kept operating.
The application was granted with conditions.
The men are expected to reappear in court later this year.
A sixth man arrested in Sydney will also be extradited to the ACT to front court.