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In a life furnished with Versace trimmings and enriched by the proceeds of selling bricks of cocaine stamped with a rip-off Ferrari logo, Alen Moradian always seemed like a character who had sprung from celluloid.
Fittingly, Moradian’s wife, Natasha, once tried to curtail her husband’s behaviour by evoking The Sopranos.
The Golden Gun syndicate was one of the biggest drug groups broken by NSW police.
“Why do you just sit there and show off – ‘I am the man, I am the man.’ Do you see Tony Soprano doing that?” Natasha wrote in a 2007 email to her husband, who was slain in a Bondi underground carpark on Tuesday morning.
“He points it all off on a junior for a reason, to take the heat away from him. He doesn’t care who people think is the boss … You on the other hand want the attention, you get a big head, you love it.
“People like that won’t survive.”
Natasha Moradian was appealing for modesty from a man dubbed “Fathead”, a kingpin within the notorious Golden Gun cocaine syndicate that was sensationally dismantled by police in 2007. She was rightfully concerned his boastful nature was attracting fatal attention to his criminal dealings.
Alen Moradian (left) was fatally shot in a carpark on Spring Street, Bondi Junction.Credit: Kate Geraghty, News Corp
The drug ring was named after a gold-plated .357 calibre pistol that police seized from the Wollongong home of syndicate man and greyhound racer Matthew Peisley, alongside $10 million in cash stashed in his roof.
The syndicate’s fortunes had been built from bricks of cocaine they imported into Sydney from Chicago via Los Angeles. A stamp in the shape of a prancing horse branded each $30,000 one-kilo package. Once they hit Sydney, each brick was worth $190,000.
Moradian brought in at least 40 kilograms of the horse-stamped packages, although it’s alleged the actual amount was far higher. With the proceeds of his spoils he conjured a vision of Italian luxury in Sydney’s Hills District, as detailed by Michael Duffy in the Herald.
In every room of Moradian’s West Pennant Hills mansion, curling gold trimmings clasped glossy black wood and metal, from the mantelpieces to the oven.
The Versace-styled interior inside the home of Alen Moradian.
Caped figures held ornate candelabras on their heads like giant crowns, standing atop a sleek black dining table ringed by $50,000 chairs.
Even the shower curtains and doona covers were stripped in favour of plush Versace print.
And in the living room, Moradian looked up from the plump black couch and watched the denizens of heaven; trumpeting angels and haloed figures unfurled across the ceiling in a $40,000 mural inspired by the Sistine Chapel.
Michael Chard, the Versace salesman who facilitated the ritzy renovation of Moradian’s Pennant Hills palazzo, believed his client was born into the wrong place and time. Here was a man, he said, with the tastes and desires of someone from 16th-century Italy.
In July 2007, Moradian was 32 and mulling the purchase of a $850,000 Versace-themed Lamborghini when police arrested him after a six-month probe that amounted to one of the largest ever busts of a cocaine and money laundering racket in NSW history.
They made 10 arrests and seized $18 million in cash, $3.5 million in assets, two kilograms of high-grade cocaine and the gold-plated pistol, signifying the symbolic and literal end of the empire.
Alongside the $10 million found in Peisley’s Wollongong home, police dug $2.7 million worth of $50 and $100 notes from the foundations of a northern beaches home in Bilgola as part of the sting.
Police extracted more cash from the syndicate by tricking Natasha. Pretending to be corrupt, they promised to whisk Moradian out of the country to safety, for a price. Natasha delivered herself – and $760,000 worth of cash stuffed into garbage bags – straight to police.
She was sentenced in 2011 to a maximum four years and six months in jail after she pleaded guilty to dealing with $4.6 million in cash earned by the drug ring, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The mantelpieces, furniture and appliances of Moradian’s home were trimmed in black and gold.
Boats, jet skis, stun guns and motorbikes were also seized, and from the glossy caverns of Moradian’s mansion emerged firearms including submachine guns and a grenade launcher.
The handing over of Moradian’s arsenal – completed in exchange for a 5 per cent reduction in his sentence – amounted to “the most significant handing-over of weapons since the prime minister [John Howard] gave his gun amnesty”, according to the drug king’s lawyer.
Moradian was sentenced to a maximum 16 years and nine months in jail for importing and supplying cocaine. But the Golden Gun hadn’t stopped firing.
Gemahl Maika, a 38-year-old father, was sprayed with bullets in south-western Sydney on his way home from TAFE in 2011. He was killed before he could appear as a key witness in an ongoing case against the syndicate.
Police charged Moradian’s partner Luke Sparos – the “Fatboy” to his “Fathead” – with arranging the hit from behind the bars of Lithgow jail. Sparos pleaded not guilty and was later acquitted.
Comments made by Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty following Moradian’s murder on Tuesday indicate the 48-year-old hadn’t left his life of crime behind following his own lengthy prison sentence.
“He’s a high-level criminal identity … he’s a major player in the organised crime network and also has links to the Comanchero OMCG (outlaw motorcycle gang), high level,” he said.
“He obviously had a big target on his back.”
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