Agent charged over alleged $4 million meth importation

PHOTO: The package that allegedly contained imported methylamphetamine and, inset, real estate agent Gerardo Penna. Pictures: Australian Border Force, LinkedIn

A Canberra real estate agent has been charged over the alleged importation through the mail of more than $4 million worth of methylamphetamine. Gerardo Penna, 40, is now behind bars after declining to apply for bail during a brief appearance in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday afternoon

He pleaded not guilty, through defence lawyer Sarah Boxall, to charges of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of unlawfully imported methylamphetamine and trafficking in the same drug. Mr Penna, who appeared from a remote room while wearing a hooded jumper, did not speak and was remanded in custody by magistrate James Lawton.

His arrest follows that of Bonner woman Priscilla Palombi, 39, who was refused bail on Wednesday after being charged with attempting to possess the same allegedly imported methylamphetamine.

ACT Policing has said a package containing the drugs, which are said to have weighed about 4.5 kilograms, was intercepted by the Australian Border Force when it arrived in the country on November 3. Police claim to have replaced the methylamphetamine with an inert substance and tracked the package to a Bonner home they allege was its intended destination on Wednesday last week.

Officers from the ACT Policing drugs and organised crime team subsequently raided the place and arrested Ms Palombi, who did not enter a plea or seek conditional liberty when she appeared in court on Wednesday, Police said on Wednesday that there remained an active investigation into the consignment, and Mr Penna, of Page, is understood to have surrendered himself on Thursday morning after investigators made contact with him. In a statement, police said they had executed a search warrant on a home in that Belconnen suburb on Tuesday.

Mr Penna is scheduled to face court again on January 13, while Ms Palombi is due back for the entry of a plea on December 14. In an unrelated case, 23-year-old Gordon man Kyle Wilson was refused bail on Thursday morning after he was charged over the alleged importation of one kilogram of cocaine from Nigeria. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: