Three men from two late-trading Melbourne music venues have been charged with drug trafficking offences, drawing attention to operator regulation in Victoria.

Manager Paul Polito and Chris Lytras – believed to be the owner – of Brunswick’s Railway Hotel appeared before Melbourne Magistrate’s Court yesterday following a raid on the hotel last Friday (15 April).

Both faced charges relating to the trafficking of ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine after Victoria Police reportedly found thousands of pills, other drugs and a quantity of cash on the premises.

Lytras had previously been banned by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) from holding a liquor licence for ten years, after the regulator noted multiple breaches at a different Brunswick hotel back in 2005.

Fairfax Media reported the VCGLR and local police had received complaints about the hotel prior to the raid being executed, and that Lytras concealed his involvement with the Railway Hotel by registering another party as licensee.

The situation mirrors that of Melbourne CBD nightclub Two Floors Up, where police similarly found “what is believed to be several thousand ecstasy pills as well as quantities of other drugs believed to be methamphetamine” during an unrelated raid on 7 April.

Jason Kolbeck. Photo: Facebook
Jason Kolbeck. Photo: Facebook

The nightclub is said to be part-owned by well known Melbourne DJ Jason Kolbeck, who has similarly been charged with trafficking offenses relating to a commercial quantity of drugs.

The day after the raid, the nightclub announced on Facebook it was temporarily closing due to safety regulations and to roll out some renovations.

It has already re-opened and is cheekily capitalising on Kolbeck’s disposition, promoting an upcoming event is had branded “Jail House Rock”.

Both venues continue to trade, but the VCGLR has reserved its right to take matters further.

“The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation will be monitoring the outcome of the court proceedings,” said a spokesperson.

“If Victoria Police has intelligence relating to the suitability of a licensee they may request the Commission conduct an inquiry into whether there are grounds to take disciplinary action against that licensee.”

All three men are currently remanded in custody. Polito and Lytras will again face Court on 14 July, Kolbeck on 25 July.

There is no implication to suggest anyone else involved with the operation or ownership of the venues is involved in the activity.

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