Accused kingpin 'behind $683m drug plots' behind bars

A man has been accused of being the Australian ringleader behind a botched drug import plot that led to cocaine blocks washing up on NSW beaches.

Daniel Wayne Roberts, 36, in the past year allegedly played a major role in the importation of almost two tonnes of cocaine that had an estimated street value of $683 million.

The Australian Federal Police said they also suspected he had been involved in plots to import a further 20 tonnes of drugs into Australia since late 2023.

A man has been accused of attempting to import 900kg of cocaine.

Roberts is accused of being the Australian head of a transnational organised crime organisation, using the name of notorious American gangster John Dillinger or "WANTED" in encrypted messages.

"We believe these drugs were coming from all across the globe," AFP Detective Superintendent Adrian Telfer told reporters on Thursday.

"We believe this syndicate was well connected with the global supply chain of prohibited drugs."

Roberts was arrested in Brisbane's northern suburbs on Wednesday following a 12-month joint investigation.

He appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday on seven charges relating to the alleged importation of commercial quantities of drugs and dealing in proceeds of crime.

The Aspley man faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Roberts is accused of trying to import 900kg of cocaine off Queensland’s Moreton Island in November 2023.

The AFP said the planned collection at sea was unsuccessful and bricks of cocaine washed up on NSW beaches in the ensuing weeks.

So far, only 256kg of the drug has washed ashore and been seized.

Cocaine
The AFP says cocaine washed up on NSW beaches after a planned collection at sea was unsuccessful.

"There was understandably community concern when cocaine washed up on beaches," Det Supt Telfer said.

"The AFP and our partners dedicated a significant amount of resources to ensure we have kept the public safe and brought those allegedly responsible before the courts."

Roberts is also accused of helping import 565kg of cocaine into Western Australia in August 2023.

The drugs were allegedly dropped overboard from a bulk cargo carrier before being brought to shore at the coastal town of Kalbarri.

The AFP said they believed Roberts had also been involved in schemes to import a further 20 tonnes of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin into Australia since late 2023.

Police are also investigating his suspected involvement in the trafficking of cocaine, MDMA and meth across Australia from 2022-2024.

Roberts was charged with a further 12 offences for allegedly using violence and threats to collect debts and intimidate rivals.

He is accused of engaging criminal associates to assault, firebomb, shoot at and extort customers.

AFP Detective Superintendent Adrian Telfer speaks to media
The AFP says further search warrants have been executed and more arrests are possible.

Police alleged the "targeted attacks" included five shots being fired into a home in Brisbane's south that had five children inside.

Det Supt Telfer described Roberts as a "serious threat to the safety of the community".

Roberts did not appear in court on Thursday.

Defence solicitor Alex Jones said his client would not apply for bail.

A Queensland police prosecutor earlier told Magistrate Aaron Simpson he had heard from parole authorities and it was expected Roberts would be given a return to custody order.

Commonwealth prosecutor Daniel Trigger sought for the matter to be next heard on May 3 in Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Mr Simpson adjourned the case to that date and held Roberts on remand while excusing him from appearing in person.

The AFP said further search warrants were executed across Brisbane and Hervey Bay and more arrests were possible.

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.


Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
AU$10
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
AU$5
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
AU$99
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

SEVEN DAYS FREE
Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store