Federal police prosecutors have told a Queensland court they are gathering further evidence against five interstate men accused of orchestrating a “black flight” from Papua New Guinea to Australia with more than 52 kilograms of methamphetamine on board.
- Five men are accused of smuggling 52 kilograms of methamphetamine into Australia
- All five cases were mentioned in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court today but only one alleged pilot appeared
- All five cases will be heard again on July 11
All five cases were mentioned before the Bundaberg Magistrates Court today, but only one of the alleged pilots, 52-year-old John Horvath from Tahmoor, south-west of Sydney, appeared.
The other men, also from New South Wales, were not required to appear.
Police told the court that they are continuing to gather further forensic evidence, phone recordings and civilian witness statements for the case.
It is alleged that on March 20 and 21 this year, Mr Horvath and his 51-year-old co-pilot, Bernard Hamilton Alexander, flew a light plane from a rural Queensland airstrip to PNG, then returned with $15 million worth of the drug stowed in duffel bags in the nose of the aircraft.
Police said the pair returned on a “black flight” with the plane’s transponder turned off and flying at a low altitude to avoid detection.
It is alleged they met with the three other men — Peter Payne, 54, Brian Pracy, 40 and Nathan Bailey 40 — when they landed to refuel at the Monto Airport, 200 kilometres west of Bundaberg.
Police told the court these other men acted as a “ground crew” and transported more than 1,000 litres of aviation fuel to the Monto airstrip, as well as co-ordinating the venture with other members of a “transnational serious organised crime” syndicate.
All five men have been charged with importing commercial quantities of border-controlled drugs and their cases will be heard before the Bundaberg Magistrates Court again on July 11.