Businessman held after cocaine bust
BUSINESSMAN Markis Turner was in custody last night – accused of being a major player in a $20 million cocaine drug importation gang.
Turner, who is the director of CQE Materials and Handling Pty Ltd at Paget, was in bare feet and wore a long-sleeve shirt rolled up to his elbows when he faced the Mackay Magistrate's Court yesterday on 10 charges.
He was one of four Mackay men arrested by Australian Federal Police at the weekend following a two-year anti-drug operation by authorities in at least three countries.
The four men faced a total of 36 charges after cocaine was intercepted at the Mackay railway yards at the weekend.
More than 50kg of cocaine was found hidden in 17 of 600 barrels of hydraulic oil, which were seized by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in Mackay on Friday night.
It will be alleged that drugs were in hydraulic oil drums which were intercepted by authorities when they arrived by sea in Melbourne on May 10 and which were ferried to Brisbane and then transported to Mackay by rail.
A total of 14 arrests have been made in Australia, Columbia and Panama.
Turner, 38, is the sole director of his company which has about 10 office staff and about 70 people in the field.
His business began as a provider of electrical work in the mines, employing two people, but has grown substantially over the years.
Turner had his grounding as an electrician at the Racecourse Sugar Mill and then with ACE Conveyors where he came to recognise the market for contract electrical services to the mines.
His work for conveyor companies gave him the foot in the door to the lucrative Bowen Basin mining market.
His company clients over the years have included Anglo Coal, Xstrata and BMA.
Turner's company has created electrical systems which have been used in Papua New Guinea and the Bahamas.
Turner said in the Daily Mercury in November, 2007, that CQE was established to deliver superior service and support to the mining and construction industries.
The three other men who faced court yesterday all said they had little understanding of English so a Spanish-speaking interpreter was used for their court appearances.
The three men are all former residents in Columbia, South America, and each of them has lived in Mackay for about two years.
The charges for all of them were dated between January, 2009, and May 26 this year, and the charges included: conspiracy to import and manufacture commercial quantities of border controlled drugs; attempting to possess the drugs; trafficking in commercial quantities of border controlled drugs.
Cathy Krieg, of McKay's Solicitors, appeared for Turner and said a bail application will be made today. He was remanded in custody overnight.
The three Spanish-speaking men were Alexis Giovany Gomez Ruiz, 42, German Rendon Alvarez, 30, and Juan Pablo Ocampo Alvarez, 24, who were all represented by Antoinette Morton.