Australia Masterminds selling deadly synthetic drugs in sex shops jailed

14:31  12 april  2018
14:31  12 april  2018 Source:   9News.com.au

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Two men will serve at least 15 months for trafficking synthetic cannabis across Queensland. 

David Piccinato and Ross McGlone are the masterminds behind the ring, responsible for the production and distribution of the dangerous drug, known as 'Full Moon'.

It left 32 people who smoked the drug, in hospital, and another two men dead.

David Piccinato told reporters he had no comment as he arrived at court today. (9NEWS) © Nine David Piccinato told reporters he had no comment as he arrived at court today. (9NEWS) “Two people died from the toxic effect of the product,” Prosecutor David Nardone told the court.

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His website would become a boutique drug dealership for enthusiasts, shipping synthetic drugs all over the country. Though the company's product mimicked the illegal drug LSD, Carlton said the chemicals he was selling weren't yet banned in the United States. He set up shop in an office

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“There is no suggestion that they (the accused) knew the people died from the product. But they would have been aware of the damage it was doing.”

The court heard Piccinato bought more than $150,000 worth of the synthetic drug from an unknown supplier on the Gold Coast.

Mr McGlone would then package it from a shed at his Toowoomba home.

“Full Moon” was then distributed via couriers to Piccinato’s five adult stores, Love Hearts, in Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Mackay and Bundaberg, where it was sold under the counter.

The court heard Piccinato bought more than $150,000 worth of the synthetic drug from an unknown supplier on the Gold Coast. © Nine The court heard Piccinato bought more than $150,000 worth of the synthetic drug from an unknown supplier on the Gold Coast. The pair doubled their outlay, turning over $351,392 in just three months before police raided the shops in January 2015.

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But the defence argued that Mr McGlone only got paid a salary and didn’t directly profit from the sale of the drugs.

Selling synthetic-cannabis had been illegal for 18 months by the time the pair started trafficking the drug. A fact, the prosecution argued Piccinato and McGlone would have known.

“It became known to Mr Piccinato and Mr McGlone the drug was dangerous to consume but the pair made the decision to just repackage the product and attempted to water it down with legal tea, because they’d already financially committed to the product,” Mr Nardone said.

Despite customers complaining to store employees that the drug was “too strong” and gave adverse reactions including, vomiting, loss of taste, bleeding of the stomach and seizures, the pair continued to sell the illegal drug. Piccinato was extradited from Melbourne before facing a Brisbane court. (9NEWS) © Supplied Piccinato was extradited from Melbourne before facing a Brisbane court. (9NEWS)

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“Customers told employees that after smoking the product, they were unable to walk or talk for several hours, would vomit extensively and would hit the floor in crunches,” Judge Devereaux said.

“Between October 2014 and Jan 2015, 32 people presented at Mackay Hospital emergency who had smoked the synthetic drugs. Two people are said to have died from them."

Even Mr McGlone himself and another employee suffered side effects as they made 5000 to 8000 packages of the drug at a time, up to twice a week from his Toowoomba home.

They repeatedly got skin rashes, burning eyes and headaches while making the drugs, despite wearing protective clothing, including gloves, a mask and goggles.

Staff reported the adverse effects but the prosecution said, Mr Piccanto who ran the operation from Melbourne, would blame the reactions of his competitors.

He even threatened staff who refused to sell the products, with losing their jobs.

“Mr Piccanto would tell employees that the products were legal and it must’ve been competitors’ products causing the adverse reactions,” Mr Nardone said.

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The drug left 32 people who smoked the drug, in hospital, and another two men dead. (9NEWS) © Supplied The drug left 32 people who smoked the drug, in hospital, and another two men dead. (9NEWS) To avoid Police detection, Mr Piccanto also told his employees to only sell drugs to customers they knew and not to anyone who came into store asking for synthetic cannabis.

He also ordered staff to send the product back to the warehouse in Toowoomba, when Police raided other stores in the area.

In January 2015, Police executed search warrants on Piccanto’s five adult stores and Mr McGlone’s home following an extensive undercover investigation.

“Even after the raids, Mr Piccinato and Mr McGlone attempted to contact staff to ensure that they didn’t say anything incriminating about the synthetic drugs.”

But it wasn’t until a year later, both men were arrested and charged with drug trafficking. Today both pleaded guilty to the charges.

Judge Devereaux sentenced Mr Piccanto to 6 years jail and will be eligible for parole after serving just 18 months. Mr McGlone was sentenced to five years with his sentence suspended after 15 months. 

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