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Sydney drug syndicate: cooking ‘sludge’ in a clan meth lab
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Sydney drug syndicate: cooking ‘sludge’ in a clan meth lab
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By Lucy Cormack & Angela Thompson
23 January 2019 — 12:00am
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The last time Stephen Gavanas was behind bars, his brother’s body was found face down, with ankles bound, in the mangroves of the Parramatta River.

It was 2015 and Gavanas, then 44, was still serving time in a Victorian jail cell for a drug trafficking conviction he received alongside Mohammad Khodr and Horty Mokbel, the brother of notorious Melbourne underworld figure Tony Mokbel.

Michael Gavanas, 50, (left, pictured with his father) was found with his ankles tied and face down in the Parramatta River at Melrose Park on July 18, 2015.
Michael Gavanas, 50, (left, pictured with his father) was found with his ankles tied and face down in the Parramatta River at Melrose Park on July 18, 2015.

He was out by the end of 2016 but his freedom was short-lived. The 48-year-old was back in custody by April last year over his role in a Sydney drug syndicate which leased a 145-year-old heritage-listed home in Shellharbour for use as a meth lab.

The clandestine lab was set up in the garage of the historic “Toongla” property in Tullimbar, a 19th-century homestead set on 45 acres which was once home to one of the region’s early magistrates.

Gavanas was one of nine people arrested and charged over the clan lab, which was dismantled in 2017 when police responded to a pressure valve sounding and a cloud of vapour erupting from the detached garage on the property.

Gavanas assisted as a cook for the operation and has admitted to visiting the manufacturing site at least three times. He has been in custody since his arrest in April last year.

The 145-year-old Georgian revival-style home, ‘Toongla’, which was allegedly used as a clan lab.
The 145-year-old Georgian revival-style home, ‘Toongla’, which was allegedly used as a clan lab.CREDIT:ADAM MCLEAN

In December, he pleaded guilty to manufacturing an indictable quantity of methylamphetamine at the property and will return to Wollongong District Court next week when a sentence date will be set.

Police allege the syndicate used the garage as a clan lab to manufacture large commercial quantities of methylamphetamine.

The set-up included a large stainless-steel condenser, which was found fixed to a beer keg that had been converted into a reaction vessel.

In 2017, investigators from Strike Force Kingarth allegedly seized 10 separate quantities of methylamphetamine from the property, totaling 1160.69 grams - more than half of which was allegedly inside a Pyrex dish - being removed by a cook from the kitchen’s microwave when police arrived.

In 1982 the ‘Toongla’ house and gardens were classified by the National Trust. Police allege it has since been leased by a Sydney drug syndicate.
In 1982 the ‘Toongla’ house and gardens were classified by the National Trust. Police allege it has since been leased by a Sydney drug syndicate.CREDIT:ADAM MCCLEAN

By the time a plume of smoke was billowing from the property’s garage on August 2017, the drug syndicate had been under police surveillance since at least July 12 the same year.

In secretly recorded conversations tendered to the court, Gavanas was heard discussing the disposal of “sludge”, the cooking process and the chemistry involved in getting methamphetamine in oil form to separate from the reaction mixture.

“Get that stuff that’s in the wok ... I’ll PH it all at the same time, bring it back to a powder,” he said in one discussion, recorded on August 4, 2017.

"If it comes back then we just put a little bit of distilled in, reset it, let it come to a skin, leave it in the wok. What do you reckon?”

Gavanas’ experience with the manufacture of the drug ice dates back to at least 2010, when he, Mokbel and Khodr were sentenced in the Victorian Supreme Court for storing chemicals and equipment used in the commercial production of ice.

Gavanas’ brother Michael, a father of three, was also known to have links with the infamous Mokbel crime family at the time of his death in 2015.

He had a criminal history dating back to 1983, with offences including stealing, possessing prohibited drugs, and supplying and trafficking prohibited drugs.

A coronial inquest in 2016 found the 50-year-old died from a methamphetamine overdose, but how he ended up dumped in a river, with elastic binds around his ankles, could not be explained.

His death remains the subject of police investigations.

Upon his release from jail in Victoria, Gavanas told police he would not give a statement about his brother’s death, but said he believed Michael drank from a glass of clear liquid thinking it was water when it was actually liquid methamphetamine.

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Lucy Cormack is a crime reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.

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3
News / Re: Kiwi lab video with news article
« Last post by uchiacon on January 20, 2019, 04:03:42 AM »
Just had to check it wasn't any pictures of my setup from a year or two back - Phew, nothing to do with me!  ;D

Part of the reason I never got involved with methamphetamine is the rabid propaganda war against it.

"2c-b, Quaalude, methylaminorex? What the fuck are those ?  :o" - Local police

New Zealands drug problems are directly correlated to an illegal, highly profitable underground market. We had a shot at selling legal weed for about 6 or 7 years, and it really hurt the gangs that were selling real weed. But alas, it was not to last. The govt simply didnt want 40% revenue on such a hot product! Now the gangs sell the "legal" weed and the illegal weed too  ;D - what a killing they make!
4
News / Kiwi lab video with news article
« Last post by dedihetz on January 18, 2019, 05:54:16 AM »
Set up in a caravan, here's the vid
https://youtu.be/WnstBdWOXWk

And here's the article, more focused on the community effects etc but few pics
http://shorthand.radionz.co.nz/brokenbad/index.html


Some interesting pictures too, attached
5
All Tsath' was suggesting, was that perhaps there could be a forum especially for potent opioids over a certain threshold, where users that have proven themselves by their posts not to bee someone who is after 'hey, can you give me an easy one-pot to carfentanil bro, preferably with cheap precursors so I can make as much money as possible', etc.

Just so we could keep that sort from accessing the information needed to make fentanyls, etc. in super-easy recipe 'teks'
6
lol its funny how people are cool with discussing meth and not opioids..... like meth is so much better...ban all discussion on opioids? wow some of you are sounding like the ones that created these ridiculous drug laws in the first place..
7
News / Re: Strange things afoot at the Circle CCS
« Last post by Tsathoggua on January 14, 2019, 08:02:43 PM »
The circle CCS? BAU?
8
News / Strange things afoot at the Circle CCS
« Last post by Ye_flask on January 14, 2019, 09:15:08 AM »
hxxp://www.philly.com/philly/news/pennsylvania/chemical-analysis-surveillance-led-police-to-suspect-in-upper-bucks-explosions-20180925.html

Posted: September 25, 2018 - 5:00 AM

Quote
"[REDACTED] was arrested after a cadre of local, state and federal investigators found homemade explosives during raids on his home in Quakertown and the chemical company he owns nearby...

[He] has been charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction, reckless endangerment, and related offenses. He was released June 29 after posting 10 percent of his $750,000 bail, the conditions of which include staying away from his company and having no access to chemicals.

Authorities began surveillance on [him] shortly afterward, according to the search warrant. They discovered almost immediately that he owns [REDACTED] & [REDACTED], a small-scale company that sells chemicals through [REDACTED] and other websites...

Detectives often spotted him traveling from his home in Quakertown to the chemical company in Spinnerstown during overnight hours, the warrant states."

Recent operations would indicate BAU including email correspondence. Not trying to ring any alarm bells but please bee wary and aware.
9
News / Re: Police patrol Welsh village to head off hunters of LSD stash
« Last post by dedihetz on January 12, 2019, 03:03:58 AM »
Thanks CJ
10
News / Re: Massive $123m drug bust uncovers most 'sophisticated' operation ever
« Last post by dedihetz on January 12, 2019, 12:32:35 AM »
Street prices here in NZ currently from personal exp, in NZD

$70-100 for a point (0.1g)
$120-200 for a Q (0.25g)
$200-350 for a half (0.5g)
$300-600 for a whole (1g)

The cheaper price is Auckland prices, the higher price is any other region of NZ (in my exp.)

Also majority of what's avail currently is the dark net stuff, cut to hell but still big shards. And always gang supplied.
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