Business owner Adam Hunter pleads guilty to importing hundreds of kilograms of cocaine hidden in excavator

Secret police cameras captured two men high-fiving as they uncovered packages of what they thought was cocaine inside the arm of an excavator, after cut the machinery open with an angle grinder last year.

The arm had contained 380 kilograms of cocaine, packed in 1 kilogram bricks wrapped in plastic.

The excavator was imported from South Africa, but the drugs were discovered by police and Border Force officers when it arrived at Port Kembla, bound for a small landscaping business at Bungendore just outside Canberra.

Business owner Adam Hunter, 34, pleaded guilty today in Queanbeyan Court to attempting to import a commercial quantity of illegal drugs.

His co-accused, Timothy Engstrom, has already pleaded not guilty.

Court documents show the pair were in dire financial straits before the excavator was delivered.

Adam Hunter has pleaded guilty to importing the cocaine.(Facebook)

Conversations recorded by police show that at one point Hunter’s wife told him their children were upset she did not have enough money for dinner at McDonald’s.

In a monitored phone conversation in June of last year, Mr Engstrom allegedly asked Hunter about the machine.

Hunter replied: “Nah.”

In other captured conversations, the pair discussed the fact invoices were piling up, before Mr Engstrom told Hunter not to worry.

“She’ll be apples. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Men allegedly made plans to deceive partners

The delivery of the excavator was delayed as police replaced the drugs with another substance. Hunter was told the machine was being cleaned as part of quarantine procedures.

Court documents reveal that as its delivery drew closer, the men became excited.

“Can’t wait to see it,” Hunter told Mr Engstrom.

The recorded conversations show they even discussed the excuses they would give their families for why they would be busy, with Hunter saying he told his wife he would be driving a truck, and Mr Engstrom planning to tell his partner he would be line marking.

The court documents allege that when the machine was delivered, Mr Engstrom began cutting open the arm to reveal the packages.

But as Hunter was beginning to collect the bricks of fake cocaine, police burst into the building to arrest the pair.

The court documents show pictures which were captured by hidden cameras of the pair opening the arm.

Police have agreed Hunter was recruited by others to import the drug, and he did not know its quantity or purity.

Hunter is in Goulburn jail, and will face sentencing in the Goulburn Court in November.

Mr Engstrom is planning to fight the charges, and will appear for directions in Goulburn next month.

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Almost $4m in cash seized from back of truck in Perth, second raid nets 13 kilograms of methamphetamine

WA Police have charged five men after a record amount of cash was uncovered from the back of a truck that had allegedly been driven from New South Wales.

Police said the truck was pulled over on Monday September 21 as part of an ongoing investigation.

It is alleged that when officers searched the vehicle, they found $3.88 million hidden in two plastic tubs — thought to be the largest amount of cash ever seized in WA.

A raid at a home in the north-eastern Perth suburb of Lockridge later that day allegedly uncovered 13 one-kilogram packages of methylamphetamine in a ute.

Bags of methylamphetamine were seized by WA Police from a house in the Perth suburb of Lockridge.(Supplied: WA Police)

A 29-year-old man at the property was arrested and charged with possessing a trafficable quantity of methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply.

The offence carries a potential life sentence.

The 58-year-old truck driver, from New South Wales, was charged with money laundering.

Three other men in their 20s were also arrested as part of the investigation and charged with drug offences.

Organised crime involved, WA Police say

Acting assistant commissioner Allan Adams said the seizures were a “significant win” for the WA community.

The back of a large truck showing tubs wrapped in black plastic next to a crate.
The storage tubs filled with cash were wrapped in black plastic the back of the truck.(Supplied: WA Police)

“That is cash that would have made its way back to more senior members of a serious and organised crime group and would have been used to purchase greater quantities of illicit drugs and repeat the community harm cycle,” he said.

“There is clearly someone who was expecting to receive the cash and given the amount of drugs seized it is fair to suggest there was a further distribution network ready and waiting to take delivery.

“Our investigation into the broader criminal network is continuing in partnership with law enforcement and intelligence agencies across Australia.”

Both men were refused bail and are due in Midland Magistrates Court this week.

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