Plumber claimed he was forced to smuggle millions of dollars of drugs in an excavator to pay off a debt owed by his dead brother to a bikie gang
- Western Sydney plumber claims he was cornered into smuggling MDMA
- Raymond Lipovac was paying back debts owed to bikie gang by his dead brother
- He was asked to smuggle 450kg of MDMA that had been hidden in an excavator
- Australian Border Force officers had x-rayed the excavator when it had arrived
A western Sydney plumber whose brother died owing $1million to a bikie gang was forced to smuggle drugs worth millions of dollars to repay his debts.
Raymond Lipovac claimed he was asked to smuggle 450kg of MDMA worth nearly $80million that had been hidden in an excavator purchased from London.
His job was to cut 226 bags containing the MDMA out of the 42-tonne excavator after it arrived in Brisbane in March, 2020, and transported to a site in Blacktown.
Unbeknownst to the plumber, Australian Border Force officers had x-rayed the excavator when it had arrived and placed secret listening devices inside.
Lipovac told the Sydney District Court he had felt ‘cornered’ into completing the job after recently being threatened and ‘man-handled’ by the bikie group’s new leader.
Western Sydney plumber Raymond Lipovac was asked to cut out 226 bags of MDMA that had been hidden inside an excavator that travelled from London to Sydney in May, 2020
He had already repaid $1million of his brother’s debt by holding and counting large amounts of cash and had initially refused to do any drug-related jobs.
In a meeting with the new leader, Lipovac claimed he was told the gang could take away his car and anything else they wanted if he didn’t cooperate.
The plumber had spent seven years paying off his brother’s debts after the sibling died in a motorcycle crash in 2009.
He told the court he was approached by a high-ranking member shortly after his brother’s funeral who indicated there were still debts to pay.
Judge Andrew Scotting accepted Lipovac’s reasoning and sentenced the plumber to a minimum of four years behind bars.
‘During the offender’s first meeting with the new leader, he was reportedly ‘manhandled’,’ Judge Scotting said.
‘The offender reported that they threatened that if he did not follow their instructions to complete a task, they would take his car and anything else they wanted.’
Lipovac claimed he was asked to smuggle 450kg of MDMA worth nearly $80million (pictured)
Lipovac and another man failed to locate the MDMA inside the excavator several times after it arrived at the Bankstown site in southwest Sydney.
The men had gone to the effort of digging a large trench so they could go about their task without anyone seeing them.
The pair were caught on secret listening devices lamenting about their failure to find the drugs, court documents state.
Two members of the transnational syndicate were arrested in the UK in June, 2020, while Lipovac and another man were arrested a few months later in December.
During those raids, police seized more than $1million in cash.