Mafia kingpin’s son jailed for NT cannabis racket
THE son of a notorious Adelaide mafia boss has been jailed for nine years for his role in masterminding the biggest cannabis importation racket in Territory history.
Giuseppe Romeo, 65, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to partnering with an Adelaide syndicate to traffic at least 300kg of the drug into Darwin at a value of almost $2 million.
Romeo is the son of Bruno "The Fox" Romeo, who was renowned as one of Australia's highest-ranking organised crime figures until his death in 2016.
Bruno Romeo was once one of Australia's most wanted men before a joint National Crime Authority/WA Police taskforce eventually caught up with him at a 750-plant cannabis crop site in northern NSW.
Dubbed "The Fox'' because of his ability to elude capture, Bruno Romeo managed to stay one step ahead of police for almost 30 years before he was finally charged with drug offences and given a 10-year sentence in WA in the early 1990s.
In a letter to then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2010, South Australian MLC Ann Bressington cited a "secret ASIO report" from 1965 which "singled out (Bruno) Romeo as a 'Mr Big' of organised crime", who was "high on the list of the infamous L'Onorata Societa - the Honoured Society of Calabrian Mafia".
"He is unpopular with his countrymen and is feared by them," the secret report allegedly reads.
Ms Bressington claimed the report also revealed police believed Bruno Romeo was the ringleader in one of Victoria's biggest cannabis busts, involving 5.8 tonnes of the drug, before he slipped the net in 1981.
According to the report, one of the men arrested in that raid was related to two other men later extradited to Darwin over a 35,000 seedling plantation 60km southwest of Katherine in 1991.
"Darwin police say the operation was masterminded by Victorian members of L'Onorata but they believe Bruno Romeo has been involved in similar activities in the NT and has links to at least one notorious Territory cannabis grower," the report purportedly reads.
In arguing for Giuseppe Romeo to be jailed for the maximum of 14 years, Crown prosecutor David Morters SC noted he had prior convictions for drug dealing in SA - where he spent seven years in jail for heroin trafficking - and was also jailed in NSW for cultivating 200 cannabis plants in 1991.
"Your honour only has to look at Mr Romeo's history to readily accept that he is a career criminal," he said.
"This is a man that the Crown says that your honour can quite comfortably accept is a person who has lived a life of crime."
In setting a non-parole period of six years and four months, Justice Judith Kelly said while she did not agree the smuggling operation warranted the maximum penalty, it was "towards the upper end of seriousness".
"Cannabis does a lot of damage in this community and in Aboriginal communities in particular and this is the largest amount of cannabis to have been brought into the Territory to date which is the subject of a single charge," she said.