Colombian cocaine importer learns his fate
A COLOMBIAN man who helped organise a plot to import 71kg of cocaine into Mackay will remain in jail after his appeal was rejected.
Juan Pablo Ocampo Alvarez was sentenced to 22 years in prison with a minimum of 14 years before he can apply for parole for his role in a scheme to import the cocaine into Australia.
Ocampo Alvarez appealed his sentence, claiming it was manifestly excessive.
But Queensland Court of Appeal on Tuesday rejected the appeal, finding the sentencing judge had not made errors.
The court heard Mackay businessman Markis Scott Turner was the alleged mastermind of the scheme and lined up two Melbourne-based drug syndicates he planned to sell the drugs to.
Mr Turner met Ocampo Alvarez on a trip to South America and offered him a job as a diesel fitter in Australia. But Ocampo Alvarez's visa was rejected after he failed an English test.
Ocampo Alvarez then received a student visa to learn English and travelled to Mackay to meet up with Mr Turner.
The court heard Ocampo Alvarez agreed to help and began contacting people in South America to organise the smuggling operation. The cocaine was suspended in 17 hydraulic oil barrels in a shipment of 200 Mr Turner's business allegedly bought.
The shipment was seized in Mackay after being tested in Melbourne and the group was arrested before it could be unloaded.
Two fellow Colombians were also sentenced - Alexis Giovany Gomez Ruiz to 14 years and German Rendon Alvarez to 18 years.
Mr Turner absconded while on bail and was arrested in the Phillipines earlier this year.
When he was sentenced, Ocampo Alvarez claimed he was only involved because another co-conspirator Juan Martin Jaramillo Maya threatened him. But the court rejected that claim due to emails and explanations explaining his willingness to help.
Chief Justice Catherine Holmes said Ocampo Alvarez's willingness to help was "obvious on the evidence".
Jaramillo Maya returned to Colombia where he was arrested. -NewsRegional