Alleged cocaine import ringleader to remain behind bars

Rex Martinich |

A failed cocaine importation off Moreton Island allegedly led to the drug washing up on NSW beaches.
A failed cocaine importation off Moreton Island allegedly led to the drug washing up on NSW beaches.

A man accused of being the ringleader behind an attempt to import 900kg of cocaine in Australia will remain behind bars.

Daniel Wayne Roberts, 36, was arrested on Thursday in Brisbane’s northern suburbs and had his case mentioned on Friday before Brisbane Magistrates Court on seven charges relating to the alleged importation of commercial quantities of drugs.

Australian Federal Police allege Roberts played a significant role in importing almost two tonnes of cocaine in three ventures in the past year, which have an estimated total street value of $683 million.

The Aspley man has been charged over a botched cocaine importation off Queensland’s Moreton Island in November 2023 that led to bricks of the drug washing up on NSW beaches.

So far about 256kg of the alleged 900kg has been seized by NSW Police Force.

Roberts was also charged with a further 12 offences for allegedly using violence and threats to collect debts and intimidate rivals by engaging criminal associates to assault, firebomb, shoot at and extort his customers.

Roberts did not appear for his case’s first court mention since his arrest.

Defence solicitor Alex Jones said his client would not be applying for bail.

A Queensland police prosecutor earlier told Magistrate Aaron Simpson that he had heard from parole authorities and it was expected that Roberts would be given a return to custody order.

AFP Detective Superintendent Adrian Telfer speaks to media
The AFP said further search warrants were executed and more arrests were possible. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

Commonwealth prosecutor Daniel Trigger sought for the matter to be next heard on May 3 in Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Mr Simpson adjourned the case to that date and held Roberts on remand while excusing him from appearing in person.

Roberts was arrested as part of Operation Groot – a major joint investigation under the Queensland Joint Organised Crime Taskforce , which includes the AFP, Queensland Police Service, Australian Border Force, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

The AFP said further search warrants were executed on Wednesday night and Thursday morning across Brisbane and Hervey Bay and  more arrests were possible.

Prosecutors alleged Roberts used the handles WANTED and John Dillinger on encrypted communications platforms, taking the same name as the notorious US gangster during the Great Depression.