Drug trafficker denies being part of interstate ‘syndicate’

DRUG trafficker Ryan Hill was an independent operator distributing illicit substances throughout Cairns and not part of a group or 'syndicate', his legal team has argued.

The 26-year-old electrician has pleaded guilty to trafficking multiple substances in Cairns between 2016 and 2018, but is fighting part of the charge that he did it as part of an organised crime syndicate which adds a further six years to a potential sentence.

His lawyers have made an application to have that part of the charge dropped which was heard in Cairns Supreme Court yesterday.

Under the legislation which was introduced in 2016, a syndicate must include three or more people.

Cairns drug trafficking accused Ryan Hill
Cairns drug trafficking accused Ryan Hill

Defence barrister Tony Glynn said Hill and Cairns Toll operations manager Jamie Payet, who co-ordinated the drug deliveries from Sydney, were directly linked.

He said the alleged main Sydney supplier Kalid Kanj and drug courier Sandeep Dharan were also directly linked, but the two pairs operated separately, therefore not equating to three or more.

"There is no evidence to suggest at any stage was he the subject of direction by Mr Kanj, there was no contract put in place by Mr Kanj," he said.

"He was running his own independent operation sourcing drugs from Mr Kanj.

"There is only one inference that is reasonably open on the evidence and that is Mr Hill was not an agent, not an employee of Mr Kanj. He was an independent operator who purchased from Mr Kanj."

But Crown prosecutor Nathan Crane argued the group clearly operated together.

"All the criminal activity of all these four people is associated with each other," he said.

"Where there was an intercept (of drugs) by police they were able to change their methods and everyone was aware of that."

Payet and Dharan have both been sentenced for their part in the drug operation, while Mr Kanj, a Lebanese businessman, allegedly left the country after police searched his Sydney home.

Justice Jim Henry is expected to hand down his decision over the application today.

Originally published as Cairns drug trafficker denies being part of interstate 'syndicate'