The Courier-Mail

Jail for ex Eels prop caught in drug sting

- Crime · Gambling · Poultry meat · Meat · Food · Parramatta Eels · District Court · Centennial Park · Beijing · Duck

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.

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