Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Fixer: The Rise and Fall of Australian Drug Lord Robert Trimbole

Rags to Riches

"Junk is the ideal product... the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy." - William S. Burroughs

How does a poor panel beater rise from the ashes of apparent bankruptcy to become one of the wealthiest and most notorious drug lords in Australias criminal history? By all accounts, fairly rapidly.

Robert Trimbole
Robert Trimbole

Robert Trimbole was born in Australia to Italian parents on March 19, 1931. He married Joan Quested in Sydney in 1952 and later moved to his parents house in Griffith, New South Wales.

Griffith is a thriving regional centre 342 miles southwest of Sydney and 270 miles north of Melbourne in an area known as the Riverina. Described by an early explorer as uninhabitable and useless to civilized man, it is now one of the most productive farming areas of Australia.

Once a semi-arid grazing area, the Riverina district was transformed into lush farmland when irrigation was introduced in the 19th century. In 1906, the area was further transformed when the government approved the construction of the Burrinjuck Dam and water catchment area.

The scope of the project attracted large numbers of construction workers, many of whom were of Italian descent. Several stayed on after the dam was completed to farm their own piece of newly irrigated land.

Many more Italian migrants were drawn to the area because the type of farming was very similar to that of their homeland. As they settled and prospered, they encouraged relatives and friends to join them. Soon a thriving, largely ethnic, community took shape.

With the advent of irrigation, two main types of farms became popular. Small horticultural farms of 10 to 20 acres producing citrus grapes, prunes, peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums, sprang up in profusion while larger mixed farms of 300 to 400 acres produced rice, winter cereals and vegetables, as well as providing rich grazing land for sheep and beef cattle production.

Trimbole and his new wife lived with his parents for seven months, before moving into a rented property where they raised their own family of four children. Trimbole later leased a garage next to his home and earned his living as a panel beater and spray painter.

The family moved to a Housing Commission home in 1959. Trimbole was always short of money, and even though the rent on the property was subsidized by the government, he was often struggling to pay it.

In 1968, he was declared bankrupt owing debts of $11,000. Shortly after, the repair shop mysteriously burned down destroying all his files and tax records.

Thereafter Trimbole allegedly earned his living repairing pinball machines and traveled the country extensively in this capacity.

By 1972, he had earned enough money to open a restaurant. With the license in his wifes name, The Texan Tavern opened for business with Trimbole as principal cook while his family handled everything else. Trimbole also opened a butcher shop, which, along with the restaurant, appeared to do well although some believe that they were both merely a front for drug dealing. Unlawful activities or not, Trimbole and family ran both businesses until 1973 when they were sold to Trimboles associate, Giuseppe Sergi.

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