Two Icelandic men who face years in prison for importing cocaine to Melbourne are "cogs in the wheel" of a global racket targeting a new breed of drug mule.
There's an increasingly-common pattern of using educated young people from good families to traffic drugs in the hope it reduces the chance of them getting caught, County Court Judge John Carmody said on Wednesday.
Helgi Steinarsson and Brynjar Gudmundsson, both from Iceland's capital Reykjavik, are facing years in prison after being caught importing millions of dollars worth of cocaine in the false bases of suitcases to pay off drug debts.
Gudmundsson, 26, was arrested at Melbourne Airport on November 5 last year when customs officials found 2.1kg of cocaine in his suitcase.
The drugs had a street value of up to $1.68 million.
Investigators discovered Steinarsson, 30, who had arrived several days earlier had near identical travel bookings.
Police arrested him at a city hotel with 1.5kg of pure cocaine, estimated to be worth $1.2 million.
Gudmundsson pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of the drug, which carries a maximum life sentence, while Steinarsson has pleaded guilty to importing a marketable quantity, which carries a prison term of up to 25 years.
Judge Carmody said it was an increasingly common in Victorian courts to see young, educated people being used as drug mules because their more unsuspecting appearance decreased their chances of getting caught.
"Frequently they're from good families, they're people who have started university or are in the process ... this is more and more of a common pattern," he said.
Families of both men travelled from Iceland for a plea hearing in Melbourne on Wednesday, when Judge Carmody was told the men are ashamed of what they'd done and had very good prospects for rehabilitation.
Barrister Michael McGrath said Gudmundsson had been under psychiatric care from age 12 to 20, but had lived a stable life until the end of 2017 when his family said he stopped working and began "partying".
He said Gudmundsson's decided to traffic drugs to pay off a drug debt worth $20,000.
"He's certainly made a big error, a monumental error by committing this offence," he said, but noted his client had a job in prison, was completing a maths courses and studying IT.
Steinarsson's barrister Erin Ramsay said her client trafficked the drugs to pay off a $10,000 debt, wracked up paying for drugs for his addict girlfriend as well as his own semi-regular use.
Ms Ramsay said having seen the impact of cocaine addiction on his girlfriend, Steinarsson was ashamed to have become part of the process of bringing the drug to Australia.
Judge Carmody will sentence the men on Friday, before their families return home on Monday.
Australian Associated Press