Man details 'scary' arrest with accused drug courier

·3-min read
Darren England/AAP PHOTOS

What started as a fun adventure ended in one of the scariest moments of Alex Costa's life when police jumped out with guns, a court has heard.

Mr Costa said he was eating pizza in a truck with mate Osman El-Houli in far north Queensland when suddenly heavily armed officers arrived.

"I won't lie that was one of the most scariest times of my life," Christmas tree farmer Mr Costa told a Brisbane Supreme Court jury on Wednesday.

Asked why, Mr Costa said: "Have you ever had a machine gun held at you?"

El-Houli, 35, has been accused of driving the truck from Melbourne to Queensland to collect more than 400kg of pure cocaine allegedly set to arrive from Papua New Guinea in July 2020.

The operation was allegedly run by a consortium consisting of a Colombian syndicate and Melbourne mafia identities, the jury was told.

The drugs never arrived after a light plane bound for Mareeba crashed attempting to take off at a remote PNG air strip, the Crown says.

That same day, El-Houli and Mr Costa were intercepted by police after the truck was found parked by the side of the road near Mareeba.

"I was eating pizza ... and next thing I know an SUV swings around in front of the truck, I got guns pointed at me," Mr Costa told the jury.

"They were screaming 'police, don't move' ... there was a lot more to it but I don't want to swear - I was in shock.

"I got dragged out of a truck, thrown to the ground, handcuffed. I had bruises from the handcuffs, that's how tight they were."

Mr Costa was ultimately released and not charged after a police interview.

"The fear it caused, I won't lie to you ... every time I see a police car or if I get pulled over for just a random breath test ... my heart starts racing," Mr Costa said of his arrest.

Mr Costa said he first met El-Houli working in security in Melbourne in 2012 and they became close friends.

El-Houli was a "top bloke" and had helped without hesitation over the years, he said.

Mr Costa said he jumped at the chance to return the favour when El-Houli told him he needed a second driver for a last minute job to Queensland in 2020.

Mr Costa agreed that he saw the trip as "two mates in a truck going on an adventure".

El-Houli told police he had been hired for "a lousy $10,000" by someone called The Professor to drop off plasterboard in Queensland, the court heard.

However, he said en route he was told that there were concealments cut in the plasterboard and instead he would pick up "bags of cash".

Mr Costa said El-Houli was "totally against drugs" and never mentioned a plane during the trip.

El-Houli has pleaded not guilty to attempting to possess an unlawfully imported border-controlled drug.