Local faces court over ecstasy bust



SYDNEY (AAP). ? A Northern Rivers man faced court in Sydney yesterday over an alleged attempt to smuggle 820kg of ecstasy to Australia in a bakery oven.

Zachariah O'Brien, 32, from New Italy, south of Woodburn, and co-accused Robert Drury, 54, of Kings Cross in Sydney, are charged with conspiring to import and attempting to possess banned goods.

They were arrested after Customs and Australian Federal Police intercepted the country's largest haul of the party drug in October as it arrived in Sydney from Poland via Germany.

An X-ray of the bakery oven revealed 62 boxes containing about 115kg of ecstasy powder and three million tablets, weighing 705kg, hidden in the oven's metal shell.

O'Brien fronted court yesterday via video link from jail, while Drury opted not to appear in the courtroom at all.

Both were remanded in custody and will re-appear in Sydney's Central Local Court on January 19.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said yesterday that two more men had been arrested in Bel- gium over the drugs seizure.

He said both were European, although their exact nationalities were unknown, and were more significant to investigations than the Australians.

Mr Keelty said there might be a link between the Sydney haul and a thwarted attempt to smuggle ecstasy to Adelaide in a pizza oven earlier this year.

Australia's previous record ecstasy seizure was in June, when 342kg was discovered in a sea container from the Netherlands.

The Sydney haul alone would have delivered a $200 million profit to transnational crime, Mr Keelty said.



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