Three men plead guilty in Spanish cocaine smuggling case
THREE men at the centre of one of the biggest cocaine busts in Australian history have admitted their guilt in Bundaberg Supreme Court.
Jose Herrero-Calvo, 40, Ivan Maria Ramos Valea, 36 and Miguel Angel Sanchez Barrocal, 40 were arraigned in court before Justice Duncan McMeekin today.
Valea pleaded guilty to one count of importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs while Barrocal and Herrero-Calvo pleaded guilty to possessing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs.
Herrero-Calvo and Valea will proceed to standard sentences while Barrocal's lawyer indicated his case would be a contested sentence.
Their co-accused and the only woman in the group of four is 38-year-old Julia Maria Boada Fernandez, whose trial will begin Wednesday.
The trial was scheduled to begin tomorrow but her barrister was forced to request it be set back a day after another trial he was involved in in Brisbane went for longer than expected.
The three men are expected to be sentenced early next week at the conclusion of Fernandez's trial.
The four are accused of bringing 300kg of cocaine into the country through the Bundaberg Port in 2011.
Valea and Fernandez are accused of smuggling the drug into the Bundaberg Port aboard the yacht Friday Freedom using the Port 2 Port Rally as a cover.
At the time, police alleged the drugs had been hidden in the hull of the yacht and transferred into vehicles which were raided at Bundaberg's turtle roundabout.
Co-ordinated raids on addresses in Bondi and Surfers Paradise also allegedly led to the collective discovery of about $3.5 million.