It was one of Melbourne’s most curious unsolved crimes. The break-in at the St Kilda Rd headquarters of the Victorian Drug Squad in 1996 suggested the kings of the speed industry were powerful and strategic in their thinking. This was industrial espionage against a perennial rival. It reeked of inside information and complicity.

The arrest on drugs charges of David Steven McCulloch in March 2001 provided one piece of the puzzle. McCulloch, one of the State’s top drug offenders, was secretly recorded by police telling an associate that he was a prime suspect for the break-in, but he was never charged. There the trail of inquiry seemed to stop. Police had busted McCulloch with 11 kilos of hash and his syndicate reportedly had access to 400 kilos of cocaine worth $140 million. Perhaps a few boxes of cop files covered in coffee and donut stains seemed less important. Considering how many drug squad officers were later shown to have switched sides, this was a delicate investigation.

Bluestone can now reveal that the real mastermind in the burglary was none other than The Chief Executive, as I called him in my revised edition of Big Shots. It’s almost disappointing isn’t it? The Chief Executive was the culprit in so much villainy it could be said that the Victorian underworld lacked depth and substance. It was a one or two man scene - The Chief Executive did the hard yards in attack, while Carl “Skinny” Williams was the fatal defender. Anyway police now know that The Chief Executive organised the burg and how it was done. A witness, I called him The Gunsmith in Big Shots, has helped the cops  out with chapter and verse.

The Chief Executive called The Gunsmith and asked him to locate a senior villain who also happened to be a jeweller, let’s call him The Lord for his lofty status in the Victorian underworld. The Chief Executive and The Lord hadn’t been getting on but this was the moment of reconciliation. They met three times in a bar off Elizabeth Street to plan the gig. On the appointed night, The Chief Executive told The Gunsmith to park his white van in a laneway off Swanston St and to leave the keys in it. He then spent an hour and half with The Lord, drinking at a nearby bar. The van had a big sign “Bloomin’ Hydroponics” on the side, just so no-one could confuse it with vehicles having lawful business at the St Kilda Rd Police HQ.  The Gunsmith returned to his van to find a number of boxes covered with a blanket in the back. The Gunsmith then drove the van to The Chief Executive’s not-so-secret hide-out in Canberra St Brunswick where he left the van with the evil genius. At a later meeting, The Chief Executiveadmitted he was involved in the break-in. The Gunsmith still didn’t twig to the fact he had been the courier of the stolen police files until questioned by police from the Ethical Standards Department.

The Chief Executive was also pulled in for questioning and quickly blamed The Gunsmith for lagging him in.  The Gunsmith got a little peeved, telling The Chief Executive he hadn’t even known the papers were from the Drug Squad so he could not have mouthed off. They stopped talking, which had nothing to do with the fact that The Gunsmith was now smoking $10 000 worth of cocaine a month. Perhaps the police should have spent more time working on The Gunsmith back then. With that much blow in his noggin, he should have talked the ears off a silent cop. Later he was a key player in Carl Williams’ nationwide drug network and rustled up a sawn-off shot gun for the murders of Mark and Jason Moran.

Anyway, the break-in probably led to the murder of informers Terry and Christine Hodson in 2004. An intelligence report detailing the Hodson’s tattle-telling on various crims was reportedly part of the haul from the break-in.

The break-in also reputedly yielded information on another informer code-named E2/92 who helped lock up big time speed dealer John William Samuel Higgs. Higgs was busted in 1994 with seven tonnes of chemicals for making speed with a street value of more than $400 million. It has been alleged that The Chief Executive had been an associate of Higgs, producing speed at a lab in Brunswick. The Chief Executive’s cartel was tight back then with the speed lab producing speed for the Moran faction, the Williams crew and the Higgs team, that is until the cook knocked over a tin of highly volatile precursor and burnt the whole thing down.


The Bulletin