Alleged synthetic weed dealer linked to two Mackay deaths

ACCUSED: David Andre Piccinato, 43, has appeared in a Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with drug trafficking.
ACCUSED: David Andre Piccinato, 43, has appeared in a Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with drug trafficking. Contributed

A MAN accused of running a synthetic drug operation through sex shops in Bundaberg and other regional Queensland areas is an "unacceptable flight risk" and could "interfere" with witnesses, a magistrate says.

Brisbane Magistrate John Costelloyesterday rejected David Andre Jules Piccinato's request for bail saying the Crown case against the 44-year-old was "strong".

Mr Piccinato is charged with two counts of trafficking and producing a dangerous drug and one of possessing devices in connection with trafficking a dangerous drug.

The offences were allegedly committed while he operated five Love Heart adult stores in Bundaberg, Mackay, Toowoomba and Rockhampton.

Police allege he sold synthetic marijuana in the form of smokable tea under a number of names through all of the shops.

A batch of the drug called Full Moon was linked to the deaths of two Mackay men on January 13 and 14 last year.

Autopsies showed the men died from consuming the deadly chemical AB-CHMINACA.

The chemical was found in the products seized from Mr Piccinato's stores in January last year.

Full Moon was blamed for putting 31 others in hospital around the same time.

"All the products were marketed in such a way that consumers believed it was legal, natural and safe while giving the same high as cannabis," Mr Costello said during the bail application.

"Allegations that the defendant is part of a (drug) syndicate or that the drug material caused the deaths of two people is not supported by any criminal charges."

The court heard Mr Piccinato oversaw the day-to-day running of the alleged drug sales using "state-of-the-art" computer software.

"At any given moment Mr Piccinato could ascertain stock on hand and co-ordinate delivery and payments along with concealment and risk management procedures," Mr Costello said.

Police allege some of the drugs were stored at a "safe house" in Toowoomba, where Mr Piccinato's second-in-charge lived.

Police also allege Mr Piccinato "coached" his staff on how they should handle police if they were questioned.

"Lawful intercepts have identified the defendant … and staff trafficking these products," Mr Costello said.

"A conversation was recorded (by police) with Mr Piccinato (and another man) discussing getting rid of evidence, including computer evidence."

Mr Costello rejected the application for bail because no surety was offered, Mr Piccinato was a high flight risk, there was no reportable home address in Queensland and there was "an unacceptable risk the defendant will interfere with witnesses and otherwise obstruct the course of justice".

Topics:  synthetic drugs

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