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Drug Mules Linked to Former Vice Editor Sentenced To Prison

Four drug couriers with ties to former Vice Music editor Slava Pastuk (real name Yaroslav Pastukhov) were sentenced in Australian court today, the The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Music promoter Robert Wang, EDM musician Jordan Mykel Gardner, events manager Kutiba Senusi, and model Nathaniel Brandon Carty were handed down sentences ranging from three years and four months to more than four years for importing more than 44 pounds of cocaine — worth approximately more than $16 million — from the U.S. into Australia in December of 2015.

The trips were allegedly organized by Pastuk, who is accused of threatening the drug couriers and their loved ones with physical harm to make it happen. According to an account in the Morning Herald, Gardner, who lived with Pastuk at the time, turned him down repeatedly, until Pastuk threatened to hurt Gardner’s girlfriend and family. Senusi reportedly took the place of a friend who had backed out. The friend had also reportedly warned Senusi that if he backed out, too, “he could not guarantee [Senusi’s] safety, or that of his brother.”

The Herald reports Wang saw this trip as a way to curry favor with the editor, who had promised to help the producer’s budding music career. When he learned what the trip actually entailed, he tried to wash his hands clean, but was told by a third party that “bad things would happen” if he did. Carty was looped into the alleged schemed after he mentioned that he wanted to visit Australia during a Vice party, to which Pastuk allegedly replied, “I can make that happen.” Carty reportedly believed the trip was legitimate until he was made aware of the extra luggage he would need to carry with him and realized he had been dragged into something illicit.

Earlier this year, the National Post reported that the former Vice Music editor propositioned Vice employees over Slack and offered to pay at least three Vice journalists $10,000 to bring luggage lined with drugs to Australia from Las Vegas. Pastuk, 26, worked for Vice from early 2014 until February of 2016; he was reportedly fired after his employees spoke up about his attempts to wrangle them into his alleged drug ring.