December 14, 2012 12:00AM
WHILE on bail and a court curfew, a major drug trafficker used his light plane and a Ferrari to shuttle between Melbourne and a clandestine lab in regional Victoria to oversee production for his ice and amphetamine network, a court heard yesterday.
Mohammed Charif Oueida, aka Sherif Lobau, whose $2.8 million fortress-like Greenvale home came complete with a golf course, was shot on the day he was due before court last year as part of a battle involving Middle Eastern crime families in Melbourne’s west over the control of drug money, the County Court heard.
Lebanese-born Oueida, 36, was described in court as having an Alan Bond-type character – he lived a lavish life, drove a Hummer or Ferrari 360 Spyder and flew his Beechcraft Bonanza light aircraft.
But at other times, Oueida was a kidnap victim, he was shot at by a rival using a gold-plated Beretta pistol, or he talked up timber deals in the Solomon Islands or building projects in Pakistan.
“He’s a terrible show-off,” defence barrister Remy ven de Wiel, QC, said. “A multi-millionaire today and they are broke tomorrow.”
Oueida’s empire came undone thanks in large measure to the bravery of an undercover police operative, codenamed UCO232, from Taskforce Rossa, a joint operation between the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police and the Australian Crime Commission, the court heard.
“He chose to play the game … what brought him undone was the brave effort of an undercover police officer who put his life at risk to infiltrate and deal with people who were prepared to use extreme violence,” prosecutor Richard Pirrie said.
On one occasion, as Oueida was on a lunch adjournment from a court hearing last year for a separate shoot-out at Coolaroo, he took an $80,000 cash payment from UCO232 for a drugs shipment.
“Oueida had plenty of money, he had a lifestyle beyond extravagant,” Mr Pirrie said.
“He was at the top of the tree on his side of the (drug network’s) equation.”
He gave one of his associates a Lexus car and another a Range Rover as he organised thousands of packets of “Chinese pseudo pills” – cold and flu tablets processed for their pseudoephedrine – and sold a wholesale value of $740,000 in illicit drugs in 2010, the court heard.
Mr Pirrie, in calling for a sentence of up to 11 years, said Oueida was a willing player who had used his sophisticated network to build a fortune.
“This is offending at a very high level,” he said.
Judge Liz Gaynor will sentence Oueida, who has pleaded guilty, next Thursday.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
how he appears to the world = ME = 45 = Hardcore. Deep, dark secrets.
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