By Cam Lucadou-Wells
The “boss” of a flourishing heroin-trafficking business in Greater Dandenong has been jailed for six years.
Harry Piperias, 48, a father and former baker, pleaded guilty to commercial trafficking at the Victorian County Court.
He had sourced, prepared, delivered and sold heroin as well as paying five employees to traffick in Dandenong, Noble Park and Keysborough.
Drugs were ordered over the phone and delivered to a meeting point such as homes, fast food outlets, shopping centres, tennis courts and hospitals.
Referred to as “the boss”, Piperias was selling heroin for up to $8700 per 28 grams (or an ounce).
He was selling for profit as well as to support his own long-term addiction, County Court judge Jeanette Morrish said.
Between late October 2018 and February 2019, the thriving business made 520 deals totalling about 806 grams of heroin – about five transactions a day.
It was so busy that Piperias told a customer at one point that “the phone’s going off its f***ing head”.
According to a prosecution summary, an undercover police officer “Sammy” was sold 180 grams for $53,650 over a series of deals.
In February 2019, Piperias was arrested after being found in a semi-conscious state in a car at a servo.
Police seized 32 grams of heroin in deal bags as well as phones, $2570 and a knife.
In sentencing on 6 September, Judge Morrish noted the planning, system and “commerciality” of the business.
The quantifiable heroin involved was at the upper end of commercial trafficking threshold, she said.
Piperias’s chronic heroin addiction started from age 23, with his only abstinence while in jail.
His 20-plus years of “extensive” priors including drug trafficking and dishonesty offences were driven by drug use.
Judge Morrish noted Piperias’ remorseful plea that he’d now “learnt the hard way” about the damage that drugs cause.
He’d failed to reform despite a variety of sentences including treatment on a CCO and a drug court placement, the judge noted.
Judge Morrish assessed his rehabilitation prospects as “guarded”. She also took into account his guilty plea and the hardship of being jailed during Covid.
Piperias was jailed for six years, with a minimum non-parole period of four years.
The term includes 936 days in pre-sentence remand.
He was ordered to pay back $53,650 from sales to undercover police.