Bungendore business owner Adam Hunter describes as “a bit of a dreamer” as he faces court over cocaine excavator drug conspiracy


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A man who tried to import nearly 300 kilograms of cocaine into Australia wrapped in the arm of an excavator has made the “dumbest decision of his life”, a New South Wales court has heard.

Adam Hunter, 35, pleaded guilty to the felony in NSW District Court, after police pounced on him and his business partner as they opened the machine with an angle grinder and began removing the package.

The case revealed an extraordinary story stretching from Durban in South Africa to Australia, as the refurbished excavator was delivered to Port Kembla aboard a ship named The Morning Peace.

The drugs were contained in one-kilogram packages, clearly visible to police when they x-rayed the machine after intercepting it.

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140 million dollars worth of cocaine was found inside the excavator

Hunter had no idea the authorities were on him, even after repeated calls to the port to see when the machine would be delivered had no effect.

Port staff told him it was being steam cleaned one day, and later that there had been electrical issues.

The machine was finally delivered to Hunter’s landscaping company in the small town of Bungendore just outside Canberra in July 2019.

Prosecutor Jonathon Emmett said Hunter’s legitimate business was key to the operation.

The court heard that there was a total of 276.1 kilograms of drugs in the shipment.

The accused did not play a major role in the drug conspiracy: the defense

Hunter’s attorney, Kieren Ginges, told the court his client was “naive,” “a bit of a dreamer,” and “an unsophisticated businessman,” who knew little about drugs.

He also downplayed Hunter’s importance in the import attempt, saying he didn’t act on his own.

But prosecutor Jonathon Emmett said his role was important.

“He has an essential role.

Mr. Emmett described Hunter as somewhere in the middle of the organization.

“He took on important responsibility for every step of introducing the excavator into the country,” he said.

“The fact is in terms of the overall union … without Hunter’s involvement, the drugs [would be] stuck in the shovel. “

Brown and black packages filled with cocaine arranged in rows on a white carpet on a concrete floor.
384 packages, each weighing approximately 1 kilogram, were removed from the excavator.(

Provided: Australian Border Force

)

Mr Emmett also told the court that an essential part of the scheme was that Hunter had a legitimate business, which lent credibility to the pretext of importing the excavator.

“The need for a legitimate business was essential to this import,” he said.

But Hunter’s attorney categorically denied any appearance.

“He didn’t, he wanted the shovel,” Mr. Gingis told court.

Mr Gingis said Hunter believed he was getting a $ 130,000 excavator for $ 50,000, so he could continue his business.

“He wanted to put the shovel back in working order and get back to business,” he said.

Hunter also told the court he didn’t know what would be in the shovel or how much.

Hunter knew what he was getting into, the court hears

But Judge Andrew Colefax has raised concerns about Hunter’s account.

“It struck me as unlikely that he didn’t remember when he told his friend that the packages contained illegal drugs… and his friend didn’t ask him.”

He said that the level of trust Hunter had shown in other members of the so-called union that he didn’t seem to know made no sense and that Hunter knew what he was getting himself into.

But Mr Gingis told the court his client was attracted to someone who knew he wanted an excavator, knew he was in financial trouble and knew he would be easy to convince.

“[It was] dumbest decision of his life. “

Hunter will be sentenced next month.

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Helen L. Cuellar

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