A New Zealand-based couple who went to elaborate lengths to elude police over a A$2 million ($2.7 million) cocaine importation have been sentenced to 11 years in an Australian jail.
Jennifer Romero-Maya, 30, and Geoffrey Kennedy, 53, who had lived in New Zealand, flew to the Gold Coast to orchestrate the importation of 1.8 kilograms of pure cocaine from Argentina in August 2008.
They spent A$4200 on "elaborate" arrangements with couriers, mobile phones and apartments to avoid detection, the court heard.
But little did they know, German authorities had intercepted the drugs through random checks on two parcels in Leipzig, en route to Australia.
The drugs, worth up to A$1.9 million, were found stuffed inside hydraulic cylinders.
The Australian Federal Police were notified, listening devices were attached and the couple were tracked down to their Broadbeach hideout.
The first parcel was delivered but the second never left Germany.
Romero-Maya's and Kennedy's phone calls were tapped and during the operation they were heard talking about how to divide the drugs and how much to get for them.
Romero-Maya, originally from Colombia, and Kennedy were convicted in Brisbane on August 16 of attempting to possess a marketable quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug and were sentenced in the Supreme Court in Brisbane today.
Their lawyers argued that drug lords had threatened to kill their family and they were forced to act as couriers.
But during sentencing Chief Justice Paul de Jersey said he was satisfied that no such threats were made because the couple had not warned family nor Australian or New Zealand police.
"You were involved in this enterprise at an instrumental level, motivated by personal financial gain ... well beyond the level of courier," he told the court.
"You acted brazenly, the process for delivery carefully crafted to avoid detection and that's hardly amateurish."
Chief Justice de Jersey sentenced the couple to 11 years' jail.
They will be eligible for parole in seven years and are expected to be deported to New Zealand upon their release.
Their four-year-old daughter is expected to be cared for by Kennedy's ex-wife.