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About 390 litres of cocaine and methamphetamine were hidden inside more than 1000 Mexican beer bottles found on pallets in a shipping container in Melbourne, a court has heard.

The drugs had been shipped to Melbourne from Mexico, the Supreme Court was told.

Adrian Franze has pleaded not guilty to two charges of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of cocaine and methamphetamine.

“This is a case about drugs,” Commonwealth prosecutor Daniel Gurvich said in his opening address to the jury on the first day of Mr Franze’s trial.

Mr Gurvich said Mr Franze had been involved in a joint enterprise with two other men, Erol Ramazanoglu and Anthony Sitar, to take possession of the drugs which had arrived on a ship from Mexico in October 2011.

Customs and Australian Federal Police officers searched a total of 672 slabs of beer after receiving information about the shipment. Each slab contained 24 bottles of Cerveza Cucapa, except one which had 20 bottles.

Mr Gurvich said preliminary testing of the liquid contained in some of the bottles revealed the presence of methamphetamine and cocaine.

The prosecutor said 46 slabs of beer bottles were identified as containing either methamphetamine or cocaine.

There were crystalline deposits found at the base of about 1061 bottles, Mr Gurvich said.

The jury was told that when these bottles were shaken, there was a “minor head formation” and the liquid inside was clear and colourless.

The other 626 slabs of beer were examined and found to have a normal head formation when shaken and the liquid was an amber or brown colour. There were no sign of drugs in these bottles, Mr Gurvich said.

The prosecutor said 11 of the 46 slabs of 355ml beer bottles contained cocaine while 35 contained methamphetamine.

Mr Gurvich said that in total there was 390 litres of drugs in the bottles.

Customs and Federal police officers later removed the bottles with the drugs and replaced them with similar bottles filled with water, the prosecutor said.

These bottles were then put back on pallets and returned to the shipping container.

Mr Gurvich told the jury forensic analysis of the bottles containing the drugs revealed there was a total of 14.1 kilograms of pure cocaine and and 133 kilograms of pure methamphetamine.

He did not give an estimate of the street value of the drugs.

Defence barrister Michael Tovey, QC, said the Crown case was circumstantial and relied on Mr Franze’s association with Mr Ramazanoglu and Mr Sitar.

Mr Tovey said Mr Franze, a director of the Destino Latin Bar in Chapel Street, denied knowing there were drugs in the beer bottles.

He said the Crown case was that Mr Franze was guilty by association with the other two men but the defence position was that was a matter of interpretation.

The trial before Justice Stephen Kaye continues.


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