National

Gatto’s son-in-law locked up over cocaine

By AAP Newswire

The son-in-law of gangland figure Mick Gatto has been sentenced to 15 years in jail after trying to get his hands on at least $9.3 million worth of cocaine hidden in imported printers.

Danny Awad, 41, and co-accused John Tambakakis, 35, will spend a minimum of 10 years behind bars, after a judgment was handed down in the Victorian County Court on Tuesday.

"You will each be sentenced on the basis that you were senior members of a criminal organisation engaged in a crime of the utmost seriousness for profit," Judge Mark Dean said in sentencing.

A jury found the pair guilty in September of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of cocaine in May 2017.

It was never alleged the duo had any involvement in importing the haul from Mexico but they had planned on trafficking it.

Australian Federal Police officers intercepted the shipment of cocaine, hidden in five Xerox printers, when it arrived in Melbourne.

Inside, there were 22.4 kilograms of cocaine with a street value from about $9.3 million to $12.4 million, the court was told.

The officers swapped the cocaine for harmless powder, inserted tracking and recording devices into the printers and delivered them to their destination.

Tambakakis and Awad took the package to a warehouse the first man rented under a fake name at Airport West.

The pair also had gloves, a vacuum sealer, plastic bags and digital scales in their possession.

The plan was to divide the drugs into smaller quantities and repackage them.

But they realised the cocaine had been replaced after opening a printer.

The duo drove from the warehouse and dumped the van they had been using.

They were arrested the next day.

The pair played a coordinating and important role in the offending, but Judge Dean could not distinguish between their roles.

"However it is clear that this was a well-resourced, planned and carefully executed crime," he said, of the duo known to each other for 10-plus years.

Society must be protected from people like them, he added.

"You were both motivated by greed and profit, with no concern whatsoever for the enormous social damage caused by crimes of this type," Judge Dean said.

Awad is married to Mick Gatto's daughter, Sarah Gatto, who was at the sentencing. He told her he loved her before being taken away.

Tambakakis also ran a skip business with Mick Gatto's nephew, Danny Gatto, but the business was dissolved when he was charged.

The pair are "intelligent" men who took a calculated risk with neither showing remorse for their actions, the court was told.

The pair has already served 61 days in jail.

A full copy of Judge Dean's remarks are available here: www.countycourt.vic.gov.au/news-and-media/news-listing/2019-11-12-sentencing-remarks-dpp-v-tambakakis-awad