Refugee Who Starred In TV Ad Charged Over $36M Ice Plot
An Iranian national who appeared in an insurance ad encouraging migrants to become small business owners has been charged over an alleged plot to bring $36 million of the drug ice into Sydney.
Note: On 21 February 2019, we published a story about the arrest of two men for plotting to import 40kg, or $36million worth of the drug “ice” into Australia. We included footage taken from an insurance commercial featuring actor Shameer Birges. One of the men accused of the crime also appeared in the ad. The use of the footage featuring Mr Birges was an error. Mr Birges was not involved in the matter referred to in any way. Network 10 acknowledges any embarrassment and distress that the incorrect use of this footage has caused and apologises to Mr Birges and his family.
Detectives arrested Hamid Ranjbarian, 37, and Saeed Bakhtiyari, 27, at homes in Wentworth Point and North Parramatta on Wednesday.
Both men, who are Iranian nationals, have since been charged with conspiring to import up to 40 kilograms of the drug from overseas.
Ranjbarian appears in a CGU Insurance advert 'Australian as it Gets' that claims he is the owner and founder of AAA Quality Painting & Decorating.
According to the company's website, he moved to Australia in 2013 where he was granted refugee status.
"I chose to move to Australia because it is a land of freedom and opportunity," he said.
"I have had so much support in Australia. Lots of people have helped me get my business up and running and I have never felt like I am in another country, I feel like I am in my country."
Detectives started investigating an alleged criminal network in Sydney's west last June and uncovered a number of plots to import the drug with an estimated street value of $36 million.
Bakhtiyari faced court on Wednesday, while Ranjbarian is due to appear in court on Thursday.
Featured image: CGU Insurance
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