How Cairns’ biggest drug network was brought undone

IT BEGAN as a quiet public tip-off - a concerned resident questioning the "unexplained wealth" of Edmonton electrician Ryan Hill.

The average income of a young sparky is hardly enough to be buying flash cars, commissioning custom-made boats and lavishing those close to him with expensive gifts, and someone smelt a rat.

They were right.

Convicted Cairns drug trafficker Ryan Hill.
Convicted Cairns drug trafficker Ryan Hill.

MORE NEWS

'Forever in our hearts': Tributes for teen crash victim

Police fuming after third huge party shut down

10 of the worst Far North fraudsters, thieves

As officers from the Far North's major and organised crime squad tugged at the thread of Hill's seemingly impossible lavish lifestyle, it all slowly began to unravel.

Phones were tapped, surveillance photos were snapped and a range of other undercover strategies were put in place as the players in Hill's drug network unwittingly revealed themselves.

Drugs seized by police during operation Oscar Aymara which were substituted for rock salt, laxatives and flour. Picture: Supplied
Drugs seized by police during operation Oscar Aymara which were substituted for rock salt, laxatives and flour. Picture: Supplied

For almost two years the now 27-year-old acted as the Cairns figurehead of the group as they tipped kilograms of methylamphetamines, MDMA and cocaine into the city and "misery on to the streets".

Despite becoming aware police were watching after several packages were intercepted, Hill forged on.

When asked if police were shocked by their brazen behaviour, drug squad boss Detective Senior Sergeant Kevin Goan said no.

A $108,000 boat purchased by Ryan Hill with the proceeds of drug trafficking. Picture: Supplied
A $108,000 boat purchased by Ryan Hill with the proceeds of drug trafficking. Picture: Supplied

"We're never surprised by greed," he said.

"There is an attraction of ill-gotten gains without true consideration of the consequences which makes the lifestyle appealing. Everyone wants the luxury without getting out and earning it."

MDA tablets seized by police during the Oscar Aymara operation. Picture: Supplied
MDA tablets seized by police during the Oscar Aymara operation. Picture: Supplied

Police pounced on January 2, 2018, closing Operation Oscar Aymara and arresting Hill and Matthew Hilton, 33, who was later jailed for 10½ years for trafficking.

Just days before, they had intercepted their fourth package - large quantities of meth, MDMA tablets and cocaine - and replaced them with flour, laxatives and rock salt.

The day of the pair's arrest, police, along with the SES and other agencies, dug up the Gordonvale backyard of Hill's father, finding PVC pipes filled with drugs and cash, including the police's dummy packages.

The contents of PVC pipe buried at the Gordonvale home of Ryan Hill's father. Picture: Supplied
The contents of PVC pipe buried at the Gordonvale home of Ryan Hill's father. Picture: Supplied

The effects of bringing down that network shook the city's underworld, and hit them hard in the hip pocket.

The operation's alleged mastermind, mysterious Sydney businessman Kalid Kanj, fled the country and is believed to be in Lebanon.

 

DRUG TIMELINE

 

March 2016

Ryan Hill becomes target of police drug trafficking probe

Sets up Body Matrix supplements business with drug proceeds

 

March 2016- April 2017

Dozens of packages of drugs and cash sent between Cairns and Sydney through Australia Post. Police intercept

 

May 2017

Police intercept 1kg of meth, 3000 MDMA pills and 5oz of cocaine

Hill switches from using Australia Post to Toll after recruiting Cairns operations manager Jamie Payet

 

Accused Cairns drug trafficker Jamie Payet.
Accused Cairns drug trafficker Jamie Payet.

October 2017

Keiran Wilson arrested and charged

 

January 2, 2018

Operation Oscar Aymara closed with arrests of Hill, Hilton

 

April 6, 2018

Second search of Hill's house

 

December 2018

Police intercept drug package with Hill's fingerprints on them

 

January 9. 2018

Payet arrested at Cairns Airport after returning from Thailand

 

 

Sandeep Dharan was extradited from Sydney to Cairns by police for bulk imports of MDMA, cocaine, meth into Cairns.
Sandeep Dharan was extradited from Sydney to Cairns by police for bulk imports of MDMA, cocaine, meth into Cairns.

September 7, 2018

Sydney courier Sandeep Dharan extradited to Cairns

 

June 21, 2019

Hill charged over Facebook 'rat' post

 

October 10, 2019

Dharan sentenced to seven years jail

 

November 28, 2019

Payet sentenced to six years jail

 

February 5, 2020

Hill pleads guilty to trafficking as part of an organised crime syndicate

 

Surveillance picture of Ryan Hill and Matthew Hilton outside Nando's on Abbott St in the Cairns CBD. Picture: Supplied
Surveillance picture of Ryan Hill and Matthew Hilton outside Nando's on Abbott St in the Cairns CBD. Picture: Supplied

February 12, 2020

Matthew Hilton jailed for 10½ years for trafficking, after lawyers successfully argued he was not part of syndicate

 

February 13, 2020

Hanna Glatthor given 18 months probation for money laundering

 

May 21, 2020

Justice Jim Henry revokes Hill's guilty plea

 

June 8, 2020

Ethan Hill jailed for two years, nine months for permitting use of place for trafficking

 

September 23, 2020

Hill found not guilty of being part of an organised crime syndicate

 

September 28, 2020

Hill handed 14-year sentence for drug trafficking

 

DRUG QUOTES

Comments on Ryan Hill's Facebook page calling co-offender Keiran Wilson a 'rat'

Snitches get stitches, don't dog the boys, dead man walking

 

Crown prosecutor Nathan Crane

When (the community) sees people like Mr Hill flashing all the things he had ... and that is from the sale of drugs, the deterrence aspect of that has some force

 

Det Sen-Sgt Kevin Goan

Everyone wants the luxury without getting out and earning it

 

Sandeep Dharan's lawyer David Meredith speaking about Kalid Kanj

He sold up and left the country for Lebanon; he is beyond the reach of the law

 

Justice Jim Henry to Jamie Payet

(You) failed the integrity test by a long way

 

Justice Jim Henry while sentencing Matthew Hilton

(You were leading a) big deal drug dealer about town wasteful lifestyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as How Cairns' biggest drug network was brought undone



Drug trafficker charged with raping child, 7

Premium Content Drug trafficker charged with raping child, 7

A man, who is accused of raping his step daughter, will have his case heard without...

Hiring headache causes business to slash opening hours

Premium Content Hiring headache causes business to slash opening hours

After weeks of advertising and searching for staff with no success one cafe has...

Hervey Bay Magistrates Court: appearance list for today

Premium Content Hervey Bay Magistrates Court: appearance list for today

Here is a list of matters listed at Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on Thursday.