Jail for ex Eels prop caught in drug sting
A FORMER NRL enforcer who became addicted to gambling after retiring has been jailed for 17 years for trying to buy almost a tonne of cocaine.
Former Parramatta Eels prop Aukuso Junior Paulo, 36, appeared in Downing Centre District Court on Monday after being convicted on a string of charges including commercial drug supply and possessing guns.
The court was told Paulo and his co-accused Kigi Kamuta went to Centennial Park to meet an undercover police officer on behalf of someone called Peking Duck, who had arranged to buy 900kg of cocaine for $1m over two meetings in December 2017.
Tactical police pounced on Paulo (pictured) and Kamuta, firing non-lethal bullets and seizing guns and $650,000 in cash.
Defence barrister Peter Lange had previously argued Paulo had found himself f entangled in the police sting targeting Peking Duck, who he said his client only had a “disparate relationship” with.
Judge Anthony Townsend accepted Paulo and Kamuta had played lesser roles than Peking Duck, but said they remained part of a criminal gang wanting to buy the drugs.
“In the present case, the amount of drugs to be received was very significant and was for financial gain,” he said.
“Each of the offenders played a central role in arranging to take receipt of the drug.”
Judge Townsend said Paulo had enjoyed a successful rugby league career but was forced into an early retirement at 31 due to injury.
“He describes having no other skills and began drinking and gambling, becoming indebted to many other people,” the judge said. “According to the offender, he was offered an opportunity to make some quick money to do the crimes.”
Paulo was sentenced to 17 years and will be first eligible for parole in 2029.
Kamuta was jailed for 16 years with a non-parole period of 10 years and nine months.