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Friday, 6 June 2008

Melbourne drug czar Tony Mokbel have revealed a trail of deception, hidden funds and a private yacht modified to hide its passenger from officials.


21:43 |


Melbourne drug czar Tony Mokbel have revealed a trail of deception, hidden funds and a private yacht modified to hide its passenger from officials.
The 17m, A$350,000 ($436,000) Edwena, crewed by Greek sailors flown to Australia for the journey, took Mokbel to a new life of luxury in Greece, where he was joined by his pregnant partner after she eluded police in Rome.
Mokbel is now back in Melbourne after the Supreme Court in Athens ordered his extradition on a series of charges, including murder. He has already been sentenced to 12 years' jail for importing 2kg of cocaine.Mokbel was on bail awaiting sentence for his cocaine conviction when he vanished in March 2006, leaving his sister-in-law to face jail for a A$1 million surety she could not pay.Yesterday's revelation by police of Mokbel's escape by sea completes a trail that began when he fled a step ahead of a barrage of new charges, and saw him placed on Interpol's most-wanted list, with a A$1 million reward on his head. His flight has also resulted in the arrest of a three people in connection with his escape and the use of the proceeds of crime to bring it about.Detective Inspector Bernie Edwards, of the Purana Taskforce established by the Victorian Police to investigate the underworld killings, told ABC radio that more arrests may be made.Soon after Mokbel vanished, police were told he had been killed by the Calabrian mafia and buried in an already-occupied grave in rural Victoria, prompting an initial search using sonar equipment of two cemeteries in Tatura. But new information convinced police the story had been concocted to throw them off the scent.Investigators trailed his partner, Danielle McGuire as she took her 11-year-old daughter on a holiday to Europe. She gave them the slip in Rome. Mokbel by that time was living in an apartment in Athens costing more than A$3000 a month.Edwards told the ABC yesterday that Mokbel had fled initially to a hideout at Bonnie Doon, west of Melbourne, while his associates bought the Edwena in Sydney, sailed it to Newcastle, and arranged its transport across Australia.Mokbel and associates followed the yacht by four-wheel-drive to Fremantle, where it was fitted with a hiding place for Mokbel, larger fuel tanks and a self-righting mast.The yacht arrived in Greece on the following Christmas Eve, and remains berthed in Athens. Safely in Greece, Mokbel set up home with McGuire, proudly saw his daughter Renate born, and met with friends and associates. Police also alleged he had taken a small fortune with him. But on June 5 last year he was arrested, beginning an exhaustive, seven-month battle against extradition.
On May 17 he flew into Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport aboard a chartered executive jet, surrounded by police.


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