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Andrew O’Keefe sentenced to six years in prison for his role in a .6 million drug trafficking scheme

Andrew O’Keefe sentenced to six years in prison for his role in a $1.6 million drug trafficking scheme

Andrew O’Keefe sentenced to six years in prison for his role in a .6 million drug trafficking scheme

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Andrew James O’Keefe, 34, has been sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of trafficking a commercial quantity of a controlled drug.

O’Keefe was arrested in June of last year after a traffic stop on Barton Highway revealed methamphetamine hidden in a sophisticated hydraulic concealment area.

Whats Next?

O’Keefe will be eligible for parole in April 2027.

A Canberra man has been sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to trafficking commercial quantities of more than 3 kilograms of cocaine and 4 kilograms of methamphetamine.

The drugs, which were destined for resale, were estimated to be worth more than $1.6 million.

The ACT Supreme Court heard Andrew James O’Keefe, 34, was addicted to drugs, depressed and in debt at the time he agreed to take part in the scheme.

He was arrested last June when the van he was driving to Melbourne to pick up drugs was intercepted by police.

In her sentencing remarks, Judge Louise Taylor acknowledged O’Keefe’s strong prospects for rehabilitation and reform.

But in the end she was forced to consider the “real risk” a criminal runs when he or she aligns himself or herself with those who “seek to exploit and profit” from the harm caused by drugs.

“Drug addiction steals the future and fractures families,” he told the court.

O’Keefe pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking in controlled drugs in excess of commercial quantities and will be eligible for parole in April 2027.

O’Keefe was financially motivated and was addicted to cocaine at the time of the actions.

A brown patterned handbag and a wad of $50 bills held together with an elastic band spill out.

Following the traffic stop, police executed another search warrant and seized cash from Andrew O’Keefe’s apartment in Phillip on June 6, 2023.(Supplied by: ACT Police)

The court heard O’Keefe was added to several group chats on an encrypted messaging app, Threema, in early June last year.

According to the plea bargain, he and a co-defendant, as well as another unknown user, exchanged messages about their plans to “cut” cocaine and package it for resale.

CCTV footage from a business in Fyshwick showed the pair mixing cocaine and boric acid, as well as packaging the drugs for individual resale.

The total value of that cocaine amounted to approximately $672,000.

In another group chat on the app, O’Keefe was asked to drive to Melbourne to pick up a large amount of methamphetamine, which he agreed to do.

After collecting the drugs from the Donnybrook address, O’Keefe sent a message to the group chat saying “all done lads, thanks.”

O’Keefe’s vehicle was intercepted later that afternoon by police near Murrumbateman on the Barton Highway.

Police said he appeared nervous, had glassy eyes and sweaty palms that he constantly rubbed together.

Police obtained a search warrant and later discovered about 4 kilos, worth nearly $1 million, in a hidden hydraulic compartment of the vehicle.

Other drug-related materials were also found in the vehicle.

Judge Taylor described O’Keefe’s role in the scheme as a “trusted partner” rather than someone who was “at a senior level”.

She said there was nothing to suggest he had derived any financial benefit beyond the specific payments he was promised for his involvement.

However, his motivation was “undoubtedly” financial, given that he was addicted to cocaine and had a debt of $30,000 to his supplier at the time, he said.

The court heard O’Keefe’s business was in free fall, he was depressed and believed this was the only way he could pay his debts.

Other messages in group chats on the encrypted app showed O’Keefe saying he intended to move to Queensland but indicated he was willing to continue travelling to make more drug runs.

Strong prospects for rehabilitation

A clear vacuum-sealed bag of sand-colored powder, with the ACT Policing logo on the bottom right.

Police seized 4kg of methamphetamine from Andrew O’Keefe’s vehicle during a traffic stop on June 6, 2023.(Supplied by: ACT Police)

The court heard O’Keefe had worked hard on his rehabilitation since his arrest.

That included abstaining from cocaine, spending time with his supportive family and partner, and participating in drug and alcohol counseling.

Despite struggling to find employment, O’Keefe had been working toward a college degree.

Judge Taylor said he had “fully complied” with his bail conditions.

He also noted that the defendant had a previous conviction about a decade ago, also for a drug offence, and said lessons learned from that incident had proven “not entirely effective”.

He warned that the custodial environment could have a negative impact on his progress since his arrest, but said the sentence should reflect the seriousness of the offence.

This was especially so because the drugs were “intended for an end user.”

“Our communities are the most affected… by drug use and drug dependence,” he said.

O’Keefe was given a non-parole period of two years and ten months.