A Lake Heights father is facing life behind bars after admitting he was involved in the smuggling of more than $6 million worth of cocaine into Australia.
Ahmad El Hage pleaded guilty to one count of importing of commercial amount of a border controlled drug during a brief appearance in Wollongong Local Court on Thursday – nine months after police discovered 20kgs of cocaine hidden inside a consignment of Spanish granite tile blocks.
A set of draft facts tendered to the court reveal El Hage, a full-time electrical engineer earning more than $250,000 a year working at the Tallawarra Power Station, set up an import/export business in October 2016.
He told border authorities a trip to Spain in April 2017 was for the purpose of sourcing product for the new venture.
However, police believe El Hage was in the country to organise a cocaine shipment, which arrived at Port Botany on October 9, 2017.
A subsequent search of the consignment by Australian Border Force officials uncovered the drugs secreted in seven out of the eleven pallets of tiles.
Federal police removed the drugs, reconstructed the pallets to their original state and released them to the Sydney Port Authority for on-delivery to El Hage. The two containers were delivered to an Oak Flats warehouse, which houses a children’s jumping castle business by day.
El Hage and another man spent the next few days using a sledgehammer to break apart the blocks in a bid to find the drugs.
Officers secretly recorded El Hage, his co-accused and a third man, who spoke over a mobile phone and was referred to only as ‘Uncle’, talking about where to find the “stuff” in the granite blocks.