The last of the crew responsible for sailing into Western Australia with more than a tonne of meth — worth a staggering $1.1 billion — has learnt their fate. Patrick Bouhamdan will have to spend at least 23 years in a Perth prison before he even reaches the prospect of release after he was jailed for life for his pivotal role in the 2017 plot to flood Australia with millions of hits of meth. The high-purity drugs stuffed into 60 hessian sacks were transferred from an Asian mothership onto the Valkoista — a pleasure cruiser bought for the sole purpose of picking up the drugs in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The vessel had already completed one successful mission in July — when Bouhamdan, along with skipper Joshua Smith, was on board. That brought in around 600kg of drugs, which were then driven east. The gang’s intention was to smuggle even more onshore in the days before Christmas 2017. But unbeknown to Bouhamdan, 53, and the rest of the gang, authorities had been watching their every move for months — taping their conversations, filming their meetings and even bugging the boat. That bug picked up Bouhamdan and others discussing the previous shipment — with suspicions over a missing bag of drugs worth $2.2 million. And it went to record the precise moment that Bouhamdan made contact with the Asian ship in December — before he handed over the token which signified the deal was on. That token was half a torn Hong Kong banknote. The Asian connection had the other half. And prosecutors said the fact Bouhamdan was the one who handed it over, who had the co-ordinates for the mid-ocean meeting and was giving the orders on board made him one of the syndicates key players. Prosecutor Carolyn Moss said the trove of evidence presented at three trials showed that apart from the gang’s “executive” Jabour Lahood, Bouhamdan was as senior as it got on the ground. “He likes to be in control, and manages minute details,” Ms Moss said. “He has the superior level of knowledge, he was on the boat . . . which maybe emphasises the need for supervision.” Bouhamdan’s barrister Julie Condon said there was no evidence of him being a “decision maker”, rather a conduit for those decisions. And she claimed his physical presence on the boat meant that the syndicate bosses must have though him “expendable”. “There is no evidence of payment, no evidence of receipt of funds at all,” Ms Condon said. But Justice Michael Corboy concluded that Bouhamdan was at the centre of the massive smuggling operation — “fundamental and pivotal” to its success. “Lahood may have been making those decisions, but you were carrying out those decisions,” Justice Corboy said. “You were not just a courier — (your role) was much more extensive and all embracing than a courier. You co-ordinated, you communicated — you were his arms and legs, involved in every important facet.” Lahood, who has battled cancer since being behind bars in 2017, will not be eligble for release until 2040. Justice Corboy last week sentenced four more of the gang to decades behind bars, with Lahood being handed a life term with at least 26 years to serve. Smith — who became a key cog in the prosecution case against the others after pleading guilty — was also handed a life term when he was jailed several years ago, with at least 19 years to serve.