Duo to face Qld court over cocaine crash

Two men charged over a plane load of cocaine that crashed in PNG have been denied bail.
Two men charged over a plane load of cocaine that crashed in PNG have been denied bail.

Two Victorian men charged with conspiring to import half a tonne of cocaine from Papua New Guinea will face court in Queensland.

Pierino Forni and Salvatore Formica were allegedly were part of the syndicate that tried to import the drugs to Australia in July.

The plane crashed shortly after taking off from a PNG airstrip.

It's alleged the syndicate previously pulled off the importation of 300kg of cocaine on a "black" Cessna flight to Far North Queensland in 2018.

Forni, 61, and 33-year-old Formica were arrested three months ago in Victoria on warrants issued by Queensland authorities.

They're charged with conspiring to import a commercial quantity of drugs.

Forni, a qualified pilot, also allegedly laundered nearly $1.4 million on behalf of the syndicate.

He argued there was no evidence the charter flights he arranged were necessarily connected to the importation of drugs.

Formica is separately charged with importing cocaine two years ago.

Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth on Friday refused to overturn a Melbourne magistrate's earlier decision to keep him and Forni locked up.

They sought bail and said they would make their own way to Queensland to face court.

Instead, they'll remain in custody to face the Cairns Magistrates Court on Tuesday, appearing via video link while completing quarantine.

Three other men have been charged over the drug flights in Australia, and a fourth arrested in PNG.

Australian Associated Press