Qld man guilty in gun trafficking trial
A southeast Queensland man has been found guilty of masterminding a cross border gun-running operation that has resulted in more than 80 weapons likely still circulating in the criminal underground.
Wayne John Yanko pleaded not guilty to four charges of cross-border disposal and acquisition of firearms at the start of the Brisbane District Court trial two weeks ago.
But after deliberating for just a few hours, a jury found the 59-year-old guilty on all four counts on Monday.
Yanko - who was accused of orchestrating the operation with Perth brothers Trevor and Gregory Manuel - legally bought 131 handguns from Brisbane and Sydney through West Australian company Wyworrie Holdings with the intention of selling them unlawfully.
The trio allegedly sourced the weapons, buying them for about $1000 each, from five gun shops over two weeks from February 27, 2017.
Authorities blocked the shipment of some weapons and recovered others, but more than 80 remain unaccounted for and are believed to be circulating in the criminal underground, crown prosecutor Lincoln Crowley said earlier.
"You can conclude they have ended in the hands of people who are certainly not authorised to have them ... these weapons have effectively disappeared off the grid," he told the jury.
Mr Crowley told the jury Yanko, of Tamborine, was the "prime mover of this whole deal" to amass the guns and sell them on the criminal black market.
The court heard Trevor Manuel obtained a firearm dealer licence under the company name Wyworrie, registered in WA, to buy weapons during shopping expeditions in Queensland and NSW.
The jury rejected Yanko's version that he was in a "subservient" role to the Manuel brothers, and simply obtaining stock for a "legitimate" and lawful business.
The trial was shown messages intercepted by authorities in which Yanko and Gregory Manuel tell Trevor Manuel to "get moving" in obtaining the dealer licence.
When they finally got the licence in February 2017, they were "ready to roll" with the trio preparing a "wishlist" of handguns.
"The best ones to get and easy to sell is the Glock - I think Australian made, even the knockoffs. Trust me mate, even the knockoffs are good," Yanko wrote.
"I've seen a few, and they're not bad. It all depends on the price ... the quantity, that is. I think get 50 or so together ... we will soon know what is what, and what is not."
Judge Katherine McGinness is expected to sentence Yanko on Thursday.
© AAP 2021