Four Sydney men have pleaded guilty to their roles in one of Australia's biggest drug importation rings, with police alleging the haul weighed two tonnes and had a street value of $1.5 billion.
Akuila Bisasa, Jason Drollet, Joshua Hamlin and Rene Arancibia appeared in Central Local Court on Wednesday and admitted their part in a commercial supply of methamphetamine (ice) and ecstasy in 2014.
They will be sentenced next week on the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Drollet, Bisasa and Hamlin have worked for Sydney scaffolding and engineering firm AllRound??? Access, controlled by Chatswood businessman Savas Guven.
There is no suggestion that Mr Guven was aware of the drug ring before the arrests.
Seven men were arrested as part of Operation KOI, which intercepted the shipment from Hamburg in Germany before it made its way to an industrial site in Smithfield in Sydney's west.
Then prime minister Tony Abbott called the seizure a "landmark" day in the fight against organised crime.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said it was "organised crime at its worst".
In court on Wednesday, the four men were taken into custody after their bail was revoked having entered their pleas.
Drollet, 37, winked to his family in the gallery and mouthed: "I love you."
Hamlin, 37, dressed in a Nike T-shirt and shorts, motioned to supporters to keep their chins up. Arancibia, 36, blew a kiss.
Bisasa, 36, has also been accused of dealing with money reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime but pleaded not guilty to that charge.
Lawyers for the men indicated they disputed the police version of the facts, including the timing and size of the importation.
Before entering their guilty pleas, the men embraced a large group of supporters in the courtroom.
Several of the men also embraced one of their alleged co-conspirators, Mehmet Ozgen, who is maintaining his innocence.
Mr Ozgen waived his right to a committal hearing and will reappear on March 31.
Another accused, Solomone Vukici, is seeking further legal advice and will appear again in court in coming days.
A seventh man, Philip Ian Bishop, has been charged over the same matter and will appear separately on Friday.
At the time of the bust, Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said: "You can't import nearly three tonnes of narcotics in this country without a large and sophisticated operation."
The Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, Australian Customs, the NSW Crime Commission and German Federal Police and Interpol worked on the operation.
The story Four Sydney men plead guilty in $1.5b ecstasy and ice haul first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.