MAFIA drug kingpin Pasquale Barbaro and his "right hand man" Saverio Zirilli could spend the rest of their lives behind bars after being sentenced for their roles in a massive ecstasy and cocaine haul in 2008.
The Tharbogang pair pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic a commercial quantity of MDMA, trafficking a commercial quantity of MDMA and attempting to possess a commercial quantity of cocaine in Melboune Supreme Court in January.
Their sentences - life with a minimum of 30 years for Barbaro and 26 years with a minimum of 18 for Zirrilli -were handed down in February but a media suppression order was in place until co-accused Pasquale Sergi, of North Grove, had his charges of intending to possess a commercial quantity of ecstasy heard.
A jury yesterday found Sergi guilty of that charge, with a sentence expected in July.
The sentences of drug importation masterminds Barbaro, 50, and Zirilli, 55, bring to an end a saga that has spanned almost four years and again smeared Griffith’s name on the national stage.
The charges relate to the seizure of 15 million ecstasy tablets, shipped from Italy to Melbourne ports in 2008 and secreted in tomato tins, and more than 100 kilograms of cocaine.
Barbaro, Zirilli, Sergi and local men Domenico Barbaro of Lake Wyangan and Giovanni Polimeni of Wyangan Avenue, were among 23 arrested nationwide in connection with the $600 million drug haul, which was at the time the largest ecstasy seizure in history.
In summing up, Judge Betty King described Pasquale Barbaro as being at the "top of the tree" of organised crime in Australia.
"You Barbaro, were at the apex of that criminality - the very top of the tree in this country," Judge King said.
See tomorrow's Area News for the full story.