HE HAD enough business sense to give his dealers leg hams as Christmas bonuses but an Ipswich man's commercial model quickly tumbled when police intercepts uncovered a drug enterprise turning over up to $10 million a year.
Christopher Ronald Cooke was jailed for 7.5 years when he faced Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday for his "managerial role" in distributing marijuana which had been transported from South Australia to Queensland in vacuum-sealed packs alongside legitimate deliveries.
Police unravelled the syndicate on December 15, 2009, when they intercepted co-accused Kevin David Black with a 23kg shipment which had just arrived at a Salisbury factory.
Police found another 16kg of cannabis in an Ipswich garage.
They also seized $110,000 cash wrapped in Christmas paper and 10 leg hams which were destined for lower-level traffickers as gifts.
Covert police surveillance and intercepts had led to the bust which nabbed 10 Ipswich residents.
Crown prosecutor David Nardone said Cooke initially was selling 500-900g of cannabis to one dealer each week between March and July 2008.
He said Cooke met Kevin David Black in August 2008 and expanded his business exponentially to trafficking about 14kg a week.
Mr Nardone said the turnover was regularly between 9kg to 23kg of cannabis a week - each kilogram selling for $6000 to $8000 - during 2009.
"He would have derived a substantial benefit," he said.
But defence barrister James Godbolt said a financial analysis in confiscation proceedings against his client had identified only $120,000 in assets derived through "ill-gotten" gains.
The court heard Black had been sentenced to six years in jail on the basis Cooke had instructed him and paid him $450 a week.
But Mr Godbolt argued that Black played a more substantial role, that his client's co-accused was storing and distributing significant quantities of cannabis.
"It's clear he was very much in the business and not simply a runner," he said.
Justice Peter Applegarth said references depicted Cooke as a hard-working concreter and family man but he must be punished for general and personal deterrence.
Cooke - who has a five-year-old daughter - began crying when the justice noted his desire for a larger family had been put on hold while he waited for his anticipated jail sentence.
Justice Applegarth said Cooke had been described as someone always willing to lend a hand who was a great help during the 2011 floods.
"The allure of income from working in the drug trade isn't worth it," he said.
Cooke will be eligible to apply for parole on December 16, 2014.