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.
- Adam Hunter, 34, has pleaded guilty to importing hundreds of kilograms of cocaine
- The drugs were concealed in an excavator imported from South Africa
- Hunter’s co-accused, Timothy Engstrom, has pleaded not guilty and plans to fight the charges
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.
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.