A Sydney drug dealer was inspired to import massive quantities of illicit substances to fund his $7000-a-day cocaine habit, a court has heard.
What started as an addiction ended with eastern suburbs man Dov Tenenboim being sentenced to spend over a decade in prison on Monday.
The NSW District Court heard the eye-watering costs of the 36-year-old’s daily cocaine use which was the catalyst for him to begin importing drugs from Europe.
The court heard that between 2017 and 2018, Tenenboim masterminded a retail and wholesale drug business across Australia’s eastern seaboard.
After meeting his supplier over the dark web, the Vaucluse man soon expanded his empire and imported cocaine, MDMA and ketamine in large quantities secreted inside everyday items such as candles and soup tins.
Judge Ian McClintock said it wasn’t known exactly what quantity of drugs Tenenboim imported over his career, noting most of his importations went undetected.
He said that Tenenboim was the “principal and operator” of the operation and that his motivation was “clearly personal gain and drug consumption”.
Dov Tenenboim was arrested by NSW Police following a five-month investigation.
Judge McClintock said that Tenenboim had reported that in his 20s he began using cocaine when he began suffering panic attacks.
“He made attempts to abstain but could not quit for more than one day,” Mr McClintock said.
“At the time of his arrest he was using six to seven grams a day, which he said had a street value of $6000 to $7000.”
Tenenboim claimed that when his drug habit grew out of control, he began importing as a way of “effectively obtaining drugs without cost”.
“He thought ‘why buy out of my own pocket?’ He said it didn’t seem like drug dealing to him because the activity mainly involved computer transactions,” Mr McClintock said.
Tenenboim first made contact with his international supplier via the dark web.
However in late 2018, the man came to Australia where he was tasked with running Tenenboim’s operation while he was overseas for a month.
Dev Tenenboim pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs.
When he was arrested at an eastern suburbs hotel, the man, who cannot be named for legal reason, claimed that he was managing Tenenboim’s domestic drug empire.
During the raid, police found a cache of drugs including cocaine, over 2.5kgs of ecstasy pills – stamped with Versace and Pokemon logos – 66 grams of cocaine as well as ketamine, MDMA powder and liquid MDMA.
Tenenboim pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug and trafficking a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.
However he disputed the allegations made in relation to the drugs found in his offsider’s hotel room.
Tenenboim had claimed that while he was in South Africa, the man had set up his own drug operation.
However Judge McClintock rubbished Tenenboim’s claims that he would willingly help the man establish a rival drug business.
“There’s no plausible reason why he would assist (his offsider) to set up his own permanent drug dealing business, introduce him to his customers, demonstrating his method of operation while intending to continue his own parallel operation,” Mr McClintock said.
Judge McClintock noted that in single transactions, the amount of drugs he brought into the country was regularly above the threshold for the offence of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug – 2kg for cocaine, 500g for MDMA and 1kg for ketamine.
He was facing a maximum possible sentence of lifetime in prison.
Judge McClintock took into account Tenenboim’s limited admissions and gave him a 12.5 per cent on his sentence.
Tenenboim was sentenced to 16 years and four months in jail, with a non-parole period of 10-and-a-half years.
“Yes your honour, I do, yes,” Tenenboim said after he was asked whether he understood his sentence.
With time served, he will be eligible for release in December 2028.