Three party pills in your pocket? You’re a drug dealer
Anyone carrying a few pills into a music festival can be considered a drug dealer. That's the law.
The rigid judicial system - a world away from the untroubled vibe of a festival moshpit - is where leading criminal solicitor Nicholas Stewart said young lives changed instantly and criminal records all but destroyed their futures.
"In NSW for example … 0.75 grams of MDMA is trafficable and I would put that at three or four pills," Mr Stewart told The Ripple Effect.
The same goes for a group of people discussing drugs before an event.
"(What) a lot of people don't realise is that engaging in a text message conversation with friends about drugs for the weekend … these text messages could be evidence of supply," Mr Stewart added.
"We see a lot of people who are going about their everyday lives and make a stupid mistake and take drugs on the weekend, then all of a sudden the legal system takes control."
Even first time possession charges, which are often dismissed on a guilty plea, can follow you for years.
"Sometimes though magistrates will convict you, will issue you a fine up to $2200 and if you're convicted you will have a criminal record and that criminal record is alive for 10 years," Mr Stewart said.
Judges are not afraid to throw the book at syndicates trying to move bundles of MDMA into music festivals.
Three men - Sant Salas, Matthew Sultana and Trent Levi Keogh - were each sentenced to more than two years jail, including their non-parole periods, for trying to smuggle 270 MDMA capsules into the 2016 Knockout Circuz festival at Sydney Olympic Park.
Keogh used Instagram to recruit two women to use containers found inside Kinder Surprise chocolates to internally conceal the drugs to get past sniffer dogs.
Young people have also risked it all to import MDMA - and lost.
Like young father Timothy Toafa who turned to drugs when his dreams of a rugby league career disintegrated and he decided to set up a new business, which eventually involved water filters, secret parcels and Dutch ecstasy.
He found himself $5750 in debt to a drug dealer in 2017 and decided the business was his route back into the black.
He registered the company Easy Business Centre to take delivery of overseas parcels on behalf of other people and spent $8800 on a three-month lease of a property.
Court documents state a number of packages marked as water filters were sent to an address in Rotterdam in The Netherlands between November 25 and December 1, 2017.
Four weeks later 19 packages began arriving into Australia in international mail. The first 13 were seized by the Australian Federal Police who could not seem to identify the person they were addressed to. They did, however, find the address they were consigned to; the property leased by Toafa.
Nine of the 19 packages, which were again said to be water filters, contained MDMA and Toafa was charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, an offence with a maximum penalty of life in prison.
"The short facts that can be distilled revolve around the ultimate importation of 32kg of MDMA with a 77.9 per cent purity," Judge Williams said.
Toafa, who had a partner and young son, was offered a lifeline in the form of favourable treatment by the courts for telling police who the drug dealer was that he was working with.
He didn't take it.
"He said that he considered assisting police but he decided he did not wish to provide information about the drug dealer and associates as he feared what the drug dealer would do to him and his family if he provided any details of them," Judge Williams said in his sentencing remarks.
"So there is no question of any further discount for assistance for identifying other people involved in this operation.
"The fact that the offender has no doubt been carefully advised as to the likely benefits to identifying others supports the veracity of his expressions of fear of uncovering them."
He was sentenced in April this year to seven years jail with a non-parole period of three years and eight months, despite Judge Williams finding he was the fall guy for an underworld boss.
"He had no negotiation with any other party or any control over part of the importation process and he was the recipient at the end of the line, who provided a postal address for the receipt of the drugs," he said.
"Clearly at the behest of and to protect the principal, he took all the risk with no direct cash reward other than the provision of funds for leasing the business premises which was a necessary capital expense for the importer.
"They made that financing arrangement in order to distance themselves from the operation, and it is clear … that the offender was at least reckless, that being a mental element for the offence."