Image for ‘Top secret surveillance shows fisherman Joe Pirrello was the common link in drug syndicate’

*Pic: Commercial fisherman Joseph Pirrello in one of the surveillance pictures showing him meeting an alleged syndicate member.

First published May 14

AN Ulladulla fisherman could be facing life behind bars after pleading guilty to masterminding one of Australia’s largest cocaine smuggling syndicates.

Joseph “Joe” Pirrello, 64, was the kingpin behind a gang caught smuggling 500kg of cocaine wrapped in Emporio Armani packaging to shore at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River on Christmas Day 2016.

Police allege the syndicate, which also involves former rugby league player John Tobin and a Bondi cafe owner, used a trawler based at Sydney Fish Markets to pick up the drugs from a South American “mothership” off the coast.

A whopping 1.1 tonne of cocaine and 32kg of heroin worth $370 million were seized by police during a top secret 2½-year investigation.

For the first time The Daily Telegraph can reveal police surveillance photos of Pirrello which show him meeting with other players in Pyrmont cafes, Double Bay parks and on-board the Dalrymple — the trawler used to ferry the drugs into Sydney …

Read more here

• This story links to John Hawkins’ story: Seafish Tasmania, Cocaine, Trawlers and a fine Stink ...