Crime Files Network

Underworld drug lord Mokbel

faces life in jail after guilty pleas


April 19, 2011 – 3:25PM

Mokbel pleads guilty to drugs charges

Tony Mokbel has pleaded guilty to a series of drugs charges in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Tony Mokbel, one of Australia’s most notorious crime figures, faces life in jail after admitting to major drug trafficking charges, ending one of Victoria’s most expensive police investigations and prosecutions.

But a plea deal means Mokbel will not face trial on a raft of other charges arising from four separate police operations.

Today, a Victorian Supreme Court judge finally lifted long-standing orders banning the publication in Victoria of the accusations against Mokbel. 

Athens police lead Mokbel into Greek's Supreme Court for an extradition hearing in October, 2007.Athens police lead Mokbel into Greek’s Supreme Court for an extradition hearing in October, 2007. 

Five years after he vanished during a Melbourne trial and sailed into hiding – and Australia’s most-wanted status – in Greece, the latest development in Melbourne’s bloody, drug-fuelled gangland drama can finally be revealed.

The Age can now report that, as well as the drugs charges, Mokbel was also accused of bankrolling, with Carl Williams, the slaying of “Carlton Crew” patriarch Lewis Moran at the height of Melbourne’s gangland war.

Yesterday, the rest of Australia learnt Mokbel, 45, had pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to one count of trafficking a large commercial quantity of methylamphetamine and one count  of trafficking a large commercial quantity of MDMA (Ecstasy) in the mid-2000s.

Greek police released these images of Mokbel's efforts to disguise himself soon after his arrest at an Athens coffee shop.Greek police released these images of Mokbel’s efforts to disguise himself soon after his arrest at an Athens coffee shop. 

He also pleaded guilty to inciting an undercover police officer to import a commercial quantity of MDMA, the key active ingredient in ecstasy, in 2005.

The trafficking charges each carry a maximum life sentence, while the incitement-to-import charge, which is a federal offence, carries a maximum seven-year jail term.

The court heard all other matters against Mokbel, relating to four separate police operations, would be discontinued.

Tony Mokbel leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in late 2004.  

The life and times of Tony Mokbel, in pictures

Tony Mokbel leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in late 2004. Photo: Paul Harris

    They include multiple charges for trafficking a large commercial quantity of methylamphetamine, trafficking a commercial quantity of ecstasy and conspiring to traffic a commercial quantity of methylamphetamine.

    Charges of trafficking methylamphetamine and cocaine, MDMA, and dealing with proceeds of crime were also dropped as part of a plea deal.

    Wearing a charcoal suit, white shirt and blue tie, Mokbel appeared relaxed, even jovial, as he stood in the court dock yesterday.

    Purana Taskforce detectives outside court after Mokbel's extradition to Australia.Purana Taskforce detectives outside court after Mokbel’s extradition to Australia. Photo: Jason South 

    Asked if he was Antonios Sajih Mokbel, he replied: “Yes, I am”.

    After each charge was then read, he replied: “Guilty”.

    Mokbel – once Australia’s most-wanted man with a $1 million reward on his head as part of an international manhunt — is already serving a nine-year minimum term after he was convicted in March 2006 of importing almost three kilograms of cocaine from Mexico.

    That sentence was delivered in his absence after Mokbel disappeared just days before he was found guilty.

    In sentencing him to a maximum 12 years’ jail, Justice Bill Gillard said at the time: “The evidence established beyond doubt that he was the principal organiser and financier of the illegal enterprise.”

    Following an elaborate escape plot that included a stint in hiding in Bonnie Doon, central Victoria, and a luxury yacht journey to Greece, Mokbel spent 15 months on the run before he was arrested in a coffee shop in Athens on June 6, 2007, wearing a bad wig as he sipped coffee with an Australian friend.

    He was carrying a forged Australian passport and a fake NSW driver’s licence in the name of Stephen Papas, of Bondi, when a joint taskforce of Victorian, federal and Hellenic police pounced. In each identification photo, he was wearing the same black wig.

    Mokbel faced a Greek court to answer forgery charges and fought hard to avoid extradition, claiming the Australian charges were a set-up. He even took his fight to the European Court of Human Rights, but failed at every turn.

    More than $450,000 was then spent chartering a Gulfstream jet to return him to Victoria 11 months later to serve his sentence.

    He was also slugged with additional drugs charges, including the 2004 underworld murder of Moran, whose sons Mark and Jason were gunned down in the gangland war with Carl Williams, himself bashed to death in Barwon Prison last year.

    The murder case against Mokbel was largely based on the evidence of a career criminal who was the driver for two men who executed Lewis Moran at his favourite watering hole, the Brunswick Club, on March 31, 2004.

    The witness claimed Mokbel and Williams contracted him to carry out the hit, which they jointly financed. Williams pleaded guilty to Moran’s murder in 2007.

    But a jury acquitted Mokbel of the charge in September, 2009.

    He was also charged with murdering hot-dog seller and small-time drug dealer Michael Marshall, 38, in front of his son in South Yarra in 2003 but prosecutors withdrew the charge in May, 2009.

    Justice Simon Whelan yesterday remanded Mokbel to face a pre-sentence plea hearing on June 16.

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