Council lifeguard and bodybuilder Rhys Ferszt accused of running a cocaine SCHOOL
A bodybuilder who once battled Australian swimming legend Grant Hackett and is now accused of being the linchpin of a “cocaine school” says he was on a “mid-career” break at the time.
Rhys Alwyn Ferszt, 33, is a full-time road and sewer officer with the Gold Coast Municipality but was accused of being the leader of a cocaine production syndicate with ties to a Colombian drug cartel.
He is alleged to have orchestrated the construction of a $250,000 cocaine lab in the regional Queensland town of Durong, where police recently discovered 100kg of pure extracted cocaine.
He is also accused of stockpiling fuels and chemicals used in the cocaine extraction process while teaching others how to extract the drug.
On Friday, he applied for bail at the Queensland Supreme Court in Brisbane, with his defense claiming he was unemployed at the time of the crime.
Rhys Ferszt (pictured), 33, named as the alleged leader of $175 million cocaine conspiracy
He is also accused of stockpiling fuels and chemicals used in the cocaine extraction process while teaching others how to extract the drug
Defense attorney Michael Gatenby told the court that some of the evidence aimed at showing whether Ferszt had access to “significant” amounts of illegitimate money was incorrect.
According to the courier mail, he said his client had access to a legitimate source of income and was just taking a break from his job with the council, which he would return to if he were given bail.
Justice Declan Kelly found that the claim was substantiated by a letter from the municipality to the court confirming that Ferszt was on paid leave at the time of the crime.
The prosecution argued that he posed a flight risk and risked reoffending or interfering with the case witnesses.
However, Mr Gatenby argued that bail was appropriate and that his client did not pose a flight risk, would report to police Monday to Friday, surrender his passport and offer $200,000 bail.
“There is simply nothing to indicate that there is an acceptable risk of committing any more offences,” Gatenby told the court.
“He’s showing a pattern of staying in the community… he’s been a person who’s able to get up in the morning, go to the gym, do those (sports) things and I think can comply with the strictness of reporting to the police.
“He offers bail, he surrenders his passport, he lives in a community where he has a full-time job and he has a stable relationship. And he offers to submit to fairly hefty reporting obligations.’
Ferszt is alleged to have orchestrated the construction of a $250,000 cocaine lab in the regional Queensland town of Durong, where police recently discovered 100kg of pure extracted cocaine
Police say a message to Ferszt about a cocaine shipment led to the arrest. Nine people were arrested in three states for their alleged role in a drug gang
Judge Kelly agreed to grant bail and said he was happy with the terms.
“I have concluded that I am satisfied with the conditions proposed by the applicant to adequately address the risk associated with any graduate bail,” said Judge Kelly.
Circumstances are not convinced that there is an unacceptable risk of the applicant’s release on bail under the terms he has proposed.
“I will therefore place an order in terms of the concept.”
Ferszt will now be subject to strict bail conditions, including banning encrypted apps on his phone. He must also provide passwords and full access to his phone to bailiffs at any time upon request.
He was originally arrested on July 21 along with nine others in the Northern Territory, including his girlfriend and roommate.
He is facing charges of conspiracy to manufacture a commercial quantity of controlled drugs between May 25 and July 21, 2022.
Ferszt and two other men allegedly put 11 bricks of cocaine in a barbecue before taking it to Brisbane to be repacked in two refrigerators
Police seized more than $1 million in cash from the home of a 32-year-old Brisbane woman – the money allegedly being profits from the cocaine cartel
If found guilty, he could face up to 18 years in prison.
Police allege Ferszt was told about a shipment of cocaine smuggled into NSW, ultimately leading to the mass arrests of his group.
Ferszt and two other men stuffed 11 bricks of cocaine into a barbecue grill before taking it to Brisbane to be repacked in two refrigerators, it is alleged.
One of the men then took the refrigerators but was intercepted by NSW police.
Ferszt’s NT residence was later searched, with police reportedly discovering steroids, guns, $60,000 cash, a paper shredder, and a notepad with titles such as “Aus, Key, Overflow, and Stash Bag.”
He was subsequently arrested and extradited from the Northern Territory to Queensland, where he has been detained ever since.
Ferszt grew up on the Gold Coast and at one point trained under Denis Cotterell, who also trained Olympic champions Grant Hackett and Giaan Rooney.
He competed alongside Hackett and also swam against Ky Hurst in the 2011 Australian 10km Open Water Championships at the London Olympic Trials, finishing 10th.
He also worked as a lifeguard on the Gold Coast City Council’s lifeguard service.