Marcello Casella, one of the three brothers behind Casella Wines – one of Australia’s biggest wine exporters – has been allegedly linked to a major drug syndicate.
In Griffith Local Court yesterday Casella was charged with one count of cultivating a large commercial quantity of cannabis and one count of participating in a criminal group.
Casella is believed to be one of 14 alleged criminals involved in the group bust, through which $15 million worth of drugs is believed to have been recovered by police.
Just last month Casella announced plans to launch a range of premium wines in the US, which will retail at up to US$100 a bottle, compared to Yellow Tail which sells for around $7 per bottle.
Casella Wines’ Yellow Tail is the biggest imported wine in the US – accounting for one in every two Australian wine bottles sold – and is the backbone of the wine business.
Back in February Casella stepped down as co-director of Casella Wines, a Griffith-based family winery which was founded in 1969 by his Sicilian immigrant parents Filippo and Maria Casella. His two older brothers John and Joe continue to run the business as the joint directors.
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