– A judge has jailed multi-millionaire accused drug kingpin Mohammed Oueida for at least five and a half years for drug trafficking.
County Court judge Liz Gaynor on Thursday said Oueida had played a major role in a large scale drug manufacturing and trafficking operation to help fund his lavish, flamboyant lifestyle.
But the judge said she accepted Oueida, who has been married four times and drives a Hummer and Ferrari, had committed the crimes when under pressure to pay money to two notorious crime families in Melbourne – the Kheirs and the Haddaras.
Oueida had been part of a posse with Fadi Haddara, Nasser Kheir and Mahmoud Kheir to rescue a kidnap victim being tortured in a house north of Melbourne in November 2009. Oueida and both Kheirs were wounded during the gun battle which erupted at the Coolaroo house.
As a result, Oueida claimed the Kheirs and Haddaras blamed him for what happened and demanded money to pay their legal fees after they had been charged for the shootout.
Oueida had been forced to pay $250,000 to Nasser Kheir, hand over his chicken shop and butcher shop to the Kheirs and pay many thousands of dollars to the Haddaras.
Judge Gaynor said there was dispute over the role Oueida had played in the drug trafficking operation, with police claiming he was the drugs boss who had organised everything but his defence lawyer claimed Oueida only became involved to pay off the Kheirs and Haddaras.
The judge accepted Oueida had profited handsomely from the drug trafficking but had also been under pressure to pay off the Kheirs and Haddaras.
When Oueida was arrested in April last year, police claimed he was living in a $2.8 million mansion with an eight-hole golf course, a swimming pool, tennis court and wine cellar, and had a Ferrari 360 Spyder, a light plane, and $6 million in a Swiss bank account.
Oueida, 36, pleaded guilty to trafficking and manufacturing methamphetamines, dealing in the proceeds of crime, and possessing an unregistered semi-automatic rifle.
Judge Gaynor said she accepted that without Oueida’s participation and organisation, the enterprise would not have been as successful and profitable as it was.
She jailed Oueida on Thursday for a total of eight and a half years with a non-parole period of five and a half years.
An investigation involving the Australian Crime Commission, Victoria Police, the AFP and Customs had been set up in March 2010 targeting Oueida and included the use of telephone intercepts, listening devices, surveillance and an undercover police operative – Mark Russell