16 December 2023

Alleged drug 'boss' could face life in jail over psychedelic chocolate bar bust

| Albert McKnight

Three men were arrested as part of the investigation, while numerous items were seized. Photo: ACT Policing.

The “boss” alleged to have been running “a sophisticated commercial enterprise” faces the possibility of life in prison after he was charged over psychedelic chocolate bars.

Michael Adam Kustic, a 39-year-old from Googong in NSW, has been handed a total of 47 charges, including trafficking in a large commercial quantity of a controlled drug, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

He and two other men were arrested over what ACT Policing alleges is the largest illegal controlled and prescription drug distribution network ever identified in the ACT and Victoria.

Court documents say police had been lawfully intercepting Mr Kustic’s calls when, in November 2023, he allegedly told an associate he “profited nearly $2 million this year – you don’t do that without drugs”.

“F-k good on you bro, from $30,000 a year as a panel beater to $2 million a year, f-k you’re kicking goals aye,” the associate allegedly replied.

Police allege Mr Kustic is the head of an organised crime group with the two other men and self-identifies as “the boss”.

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The group is alleged to have operated an illegal business, similar to an online pharmacy, under the name ”OzPharmLabs”.

Customers are alleged to pay in cryptocurrency and the group is alleged to send its illicit items to locations across Australia using the postal service, with its hub being in the ACT.

The group is alleged to have operated from at least August to December 2023.

For Mr Kustic’s most serious charge, he is accused of trafficking about 40 psilocybin-laced chocolate bars that weighed a total of 2.4 kg.

However, the labels for these bars allegedly stated they contained four grams of psilocybin each, which would mean the total amount of the drug contained in all the bars would be 160 g, barrister James Maher told the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (15 December).

He was in court to argue for his client to be granted bail, which was opposed by the prosecution.

seized drug evidence

A large amount of evidence was seized during the investigation into the alleged drug-dealing group. Photo: ACT Policing.

Mr Maher was arguing that under the legislation, two grams of psilocybin was a trafficable quantity of the drug and one kilogram was a commercial quantity, so the alleged 160 g in the chocolate bars could mean his client should face a lesser charge.

The court did hear the prosecution was entitled to lay the current charge, although Mr Maher said it was inappropriate.

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Magistrate Glenn Theakston said what was alleged was “a sophisticated commercial enterprise” of selling a range of substances, of which psilocybin was just one.

He said the allegations still represented a serious example of the offence and there were no special or exceptional circumstances in the case that were required for him to grant bail.

Mr Kustic was remanded in custody and the matter was adjourned to 21 December for a mention.

His other charges include one count of participating in a criminal group, 11 counts of supplying an anabolic steroid, 12 counts of suppling a declared substance and four more counts of drug trafficking.

In addition to Mr Kustic, a 38-year-old man was arrested at a residence in O’Connor and a 27-year-old man was arrested at a home in Gordon. Both faced court last weekend.

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