Convicted killer and former kingpin of Melbourne’s underworld, George Marrogi coordinated this sophisticated scheme whilst in prison, with the aid of his girlfriend, Antonietta Mannella.
Marrogi was allegedly setting up drug deals from Barwon prison while pretending to be on the phone with his lawyer. Instead, Marrogi circumvented the high-security Prison’s phone system, making up to 20 calls a day to plot and scheme criminal activities. Calls were instead being diverted secretly to his girlfriend Mannella on the outside, pretending to be his lawyer’s receptionist. Manella then helped source drugs and carried out Marrogi’s orders on the outside.
“How are the fish going? Did they move to the aquarium or not yet?” Marrogi asked his girlfriend on the day of its arrival.
(Drugs seized in February 2022 had an estimated street value of $55 million – image supplied:
Australian Federal Police).
In 2021, federal police launched operation Fuji and tuned into Marrogi and Mannella’s daily code word-filled phone calls. Investigators eventually deciphered these coded calls and in January 2022, Victoria Police intercepted a truck carrying 347 litres of drug precursor chemicals. The following month, the AFP seized 69 kilograms of methamphetamines and heroin hidden in a green tea shipment. It was flown into Melbourne via Bangkok and taken to a warehouse in Epping.
Marrogi will remain in jail until he’s aged in his 60s after a judge sentenced him to 22 years behind bars for running an international drug importation syndicate from inside prison, aided by his girlfriend Antonietta Mannella, who was sentenced to 13 years for her part in the scheme.
“We will target you, we will hunt you, and we will take your assets off you,” Australian Federal Police (AFP) Superintendent Anthony Hall said.
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