Breaking bad dads face jail for making ecstasy in country lab
A drug cook whose daughter was pictured sucking on a pink dummy as police raided his western Sydney home faces spending the rest of his life behind bars after admitting to his role in a highly sophisticated ecstasy manufacturing operation.
Like Breaking Bad's Walter White, the scenes of idyllic domesticity hid a much darker world, one in which Merrylands man Buddy Zeaiter, 55, and fellow suburban father Chris Perdulovsky were master drug cooks.
They worked for a major gang responsible for manufacturing MDMA and MDA (a lesser known version of ecstasy), worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, near Bathurst in NSW's central west.
The full story of their sophisticated operation can be revealed after Zeaiter pleaded guilty to manufacturing a large commercial quantity, or 24kg, of MDA - likely destined for NSW summer music festivals - and participating in a criminal group.
Agreed facts reveal that Zeaiter, who was known as "buz" or "cuzzie" and Perdulovsky, whose nickname was "tiler" were part of an elaborate drug lab set up at a rural property in Neville before their worlds came crashing down with their dramatic arrests in March 2018.
Unbeknown to them a special NSW Police strike force had been listening in and watching their every move after detectives planted bugs at the rural property and tapped their phones in August 2017.
The syndicate talked in codes that made what they were doing seem like normal activities for middle-aged men - they often said they were going to "work" or taking a trip to go "fishing" when driving across the Blue Mountains from Sydney to Neville.
They also referred to the production of ecstasy as "tiling", "laying tiles" and "concrete".
"Listen, make sure you wet the cement tonight because they laid it yesterday and if you don't wet it, it will crack," Zeaiter was intercepted saying, as code about the manufacture of MDA in September 2017.
"Soon as you get there, you have to keep wetting it for a couple of days."
Just two months later another alleged syndicate member is accused of using dad duties as drug code when he was recorded saying: "I'm going through a lot of baby wipes."
According to court documents, the syndicate used an industrial property at Wetherill Park to store precursor chemicals and manufactured the drugs at the property in Neville.
The chemistry used in the drug lab was so advanced it was stocked with reaction flasks, heating mantles, water baths, a mechanised tablet press as well as bunks for syndicate members to sleep in.
Police later also found respirators and heavy duty protective chemical gloves.
In January 2018 Perdulovsky was recorded complaining about having to cook MDA alone at Neville, saying "they need a bloody hand up there doing the tiling or whatever - just bloody I'm here".
Nearly two weeks later the scale with which he was making drugs was captured on surveillance, which showed him transferring a blue-coloured powder into a tablet press hopper. Police believe this alone created at least 20,000 ecstasy pills.
Another day surveillance captured Perdulovsky transferring an orange substance from a bucket into the tablet press hopper which police believe created at least 35,000 ecstasy pills.
Danger was never far away for the syndicate when they were dealing with such dangerous chemicals in crude conditions.
In March 2018 Zeaiter was hospitalised with a "chronic serious respiratory condition" he suspected was having developed due to cooking the drugs.
"You know what, it could be boxing all the chemicals," Zeaiter was recorded saying in his Westmead hospital room in reference to his lung condition.
By then, police had enough evidence against the syndicate and two days later raided Zeaiter's house as well as the country drug lab at Neville.
An estimated 24kg of ecstasy was manufactured at Neville between August 2017 and March 2018.
Zeaiter will be sentenced in Bathurst District Court next month.
Perdulovsky, who once ran a microlight flying school in the Hunter Valley, has pleaded guilty to manufacturing a prohibited drug and participating in a criminal group.
He faces a sentence hearing at the same court later this month.
Other alleged members of the syndicate remain before the courts.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said after the raid on Zeaiter's house the police operation showed its determination to target drug supply chains. "Region Enforcement Squads have been hugely successful in targeting the illicit drug supply chain that is impacting the everyday lives of local residents and businesses," he said.
Originally published as Breaking bad dads face jail for making ecstasy in country lab