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The Block host Scott Cam floored by contestant Omar Slaimankhel’s link to ‘drug boss’ Mostafa Baluch

Scott Cam had no idea one of his contestants on The Block was a mate of an alleged big-time drug baron until he saw it on the news.

NRL player turned tradie Omar Slaimankhel was in the car with accused kingpin Mostafa Baluch when he cut off his ankle monitor before going on the run last year.

His escape sparked one Australia’s biggest manhunts until he was caught 16 days later trying to sneak into Queensland from NSW.

Mr Slaimankhel, said to be a friend of Baluch and did not act illegally in any way, was driving through Sydney’s northern beaches on October 25.

Daily Mail Australia understands they know each other through a family connection and went out to dinner that night before giving Baluch a lift on the way home. 

Scott Cam had no idea one of his contestants on The Block was a mate of an alleged big-time drug baron until he saw it on the news

Former professional rugby player Omar Slaimankhel (left) and building maintenance man Ozman (Oz) Abu Malik (right) are contestants on The Block

Former professional rugby player Omar Slaimankhel (left) and building maintenance man Ozman (Oz) Abu Malik (right) are contestants on The Block

Baluch cut off the ankle monitor and ditched it near Pittwater Road in Bayview about 10.30pm sometime during the trip.

Cam said he was unaware the two even knew each other during the three months of filming for the series, which is now screening on Channel Nine.

‘I had no idea about this during filming at all,’ he told Daily Mail Australia. ‘I can’t really talk about him due to what’s happened and I wasn’t aware of it.’

NRL Player turned tradie Omar Slaimankhel (pictured) was in the car with accused cocaine kingpin Mostafa Baluch when he cut off his ankle monitor before going on the run

NRL Player turned tradie Omar Slaimankhel (pictured) was in the car with accused cocaine kingpin Mostafa Baluch when he cut off his ankle monitor before going on the run 

Nine also said the car ride never came up in background checks on Mr Slaimankhel before he was selected for the show.

‘All contestants undergo rigorous background checks before appearing on the show and we have no knowledge of this alleged incident,’ it said.

The 30-year-old cooperated fully with police in their investigation of his friend, was never charged, and there is no suggestion he knew Baluch planned to cut off the ankle bracelet and go on the run, or saw him again afterwards.

A police source told the Daily Telegraph he had ‘some balls to show up on television and parade around’.

Baluch faces life behind bars for allegedly importing $270 million worth of cocaine, and spent two weeks on the run in a desperate bid to escape overseas.

He was found by police hidden in the boot of a Mercedes concealed inside a shipping container being towed by a truck on the NSW-Queensland border.

Accused drug baron Mostafa Baluch's (pictured) escape sparked one Australia's biggest manhunts until he was caught 16 days later trying to sneak into Queensland from NSW

Accused drug baron Mostafa Baluch’s (pictured) escape sparked one Australia’s biggest manhunts until he was caught 16 days later trying to sneak into Queensland from NSW

Mr Slaimankhel was born in Pakistan, grew up in Auckland, and later moved to Sydney where he lives with his wife Maz and their two sons, aged four and one.

After playing five first grade games for the New Zealand Warriors in 2012, he moved to Japan to play rugby union for the Canon Eagles.

Upon returning to Australia in 2015, the Sydney Roosters signed him up to play for one of their feeder clubs in the NSW Cup – the Wyong Roos. 

The former footballer turned to work in the construction industry before appearing on The Block this year.

The Afghani-Australian was partnered with best friend and fellow Muslim Ozman ‘Oz’ Abu Malik, who is of Lebanese descent.

Both men had limited experience in building and design but were quick to impress the judges.

Channel Nine revealed that Mr Slaimankhel (left) would be a contestant on the series in late July when it released the full line-up for the competition. He was partnered Ozman 'Oz' Abu Malik (right)

Channel Nine revealed that Mr Slaimankhel (left) would be a contestant on the series in late July when it released the full line-up for the competition. He was partnered Ozman ‘Oz’ Abu Malik (right)

The pair won main bathroom week during the much-anticipated room reveals on last Sunday’s episode. 

They spent the least amount on their renovation at just $20,749, and still took first place on the leaderboard with a total score of 26 out of 30. 

Judge Shaynna Blaze said of the boys’ near-flawless renovation: ‘I can’t believe this is Omar and Oz. Traditional and contemporary.’

‘It’s beautiful. It works. It feels contemporary and country,’ judge Neale Whitaker added.

They won the $250,000 upgrade for kitchen week as well as a $10,000 cash prize. 

During the first few weeks on the show, the two friends were observing Ramadan and were filmed praying on the series.

Both men were not able to consume any food or drink after sunrise and could only break their fast at sunset under the Muslim holy week’s rules. 

Omar Slaimankhel and  Ozman (Oz) Abu Malik (pictured) were quick to impress the judges on the home renovation series, taking out bathroom week on last Sunday night's reveal

Omar Slaimankhel and  Ozman (Oz) Abu Malik (pictured) were quick to impress the judges on the home renovation series, taking out bathroom week on last Sunday night’s reveal 

The pair spent the least amount on the renovation at just $20,749, but took home the prize

The pair spent the least amount on the renovation at just $20,749, but took home the prize

Baluch was allegedly planning to escape Australia by setting sail from Far North Queensland to southeast Asia, before stepping on a jet to eastern Europe.

Dramatic bodycam footage showed the moment officers approached the container on the Gold Coast Highway at Bilinga, at the NSW border.

He accidentally gave himself away when an officer knocked on the side of the freight and he tapped back.

In video of his arrest, officers from Queensland’s crime and intelligence command shouted ‘armed police! armed police!’ as they opened the door to the container.

Baluch - dubbed 'Australia's Pablo Escobar' - was captured by police after he was found inside a shipping container inside a truck on the NSW-Queensland border (pictured at Bankstown Airport after extradition)

Baluch – dubbed ‘Australia’s Pablo Escobar’ – was captured by police after he was found inside a shipping container inside a truck on the NSW-Queensland border (pictured at Bankstown Airport after extradition)

What is AN0M? 

The Australian Federal Police in June revealed a breathtaking three-year tech ploy which led to 4,000 police executing 525 search warrants.   

Senior bikies and mafia figures were tricked into buying hi-tech phones that would supposedly let them messages one another, free of police snooping. 

But the ANoM phones were actually designed by the FBI and allowed Australian police to read the texts of organised crime figures.  

Police watched in real time as alleged crooks spilled their secrets to one another on their own app. 

Some 21 execution plots were foiled and drug and gun smuggling networks dismantled. 

Some 224 people have been arrested, $44,934,457 in cash seized, as well as 104 weapons, 3.7 tonnes of drugs and multi-million dollar assets.   

Alleged crooks even paid six-monthly subscription fees to the police – the money only further reinforcing law enforcement methods. 

A figure in a dark t-shirt was then handcuffed beside a police car.

‘Officers noticed some suspicious items with the container that wasn’t properly locked and other things that caught their attention,’ organised crime squad commander Detective Superintendent Rob Crichlow told reporters.

‘There was a knock on the side of the truck and he knocked back. He was a bit shocked and ultimately good police work secured his arrest.

‘We suspect that the person… thought it was a drop off point – that he was being signalled that it is safe.

‘Of course, he didn’t realise it was a constable.’

Baluch, who once owned Cervo restaurant in Northbridge, was swept up by police in June as part of the AN0M raids.

Law enforcement designed an encrypted app and marketed it to underworld figures so investigators could monitor their communications.

Detectives started investigating Baluch last year after receiving a tip about a man gambling a huge amount of money at Star Casino.

The betting was flagged as potential money laundering and kicked off an investigation that eventually became focused on drug trafficking.

Then-NSW Police Minister David Elliott paid tribute to the constable who knocked on the truck.

‘I’m tracking down the constable that did the famous knock on the side of the truck,’ he said.

‘He’ll get a beer and a hug from me when the borders open and if that’s not an enticement for Queensland to open the borders, I don’t know what is.’

He was released from custody under strict conditions, including $4 million surety on his waterfront home in Bayview, which is in the process of being seized by authorities.

Baluch was charged with high-level drug crimes over a 900kg shipment of cocaine into Australia that had a street value of $270 million, and will also face charges for his breach of bail.

Baluch was caught in the back of a luxury car in a truck at the Queensland-NSW border in November as he attempted to evade capture after weeks on the run

Baluch was caught in the back of a luxury car in a truck at the Queensland-NSW border in November as he attempted to evade capture after weeks on the run 

HOW THE COPS CAUGHT BALUCH 

2020:  Mostafa Baluch was arrested as part of an investigation into an alleged organised crime sting plotting to supply three tonnes of cocaine in NSW. 

Detectives started the investigation after receiving a tip about a person gambling a huge amount of money at the Star Casino. 

The betting was flagged as potential money laundering and kicked off an investigation that eventually became focused on drug trafficking.

June 2021: Charged with drug offences when his Bayview home on Sydney’s northern beaches was raided 

October 22, 2021: He was granted bail on several conditions and was forced to wear an ankle monitor

October 25, 2021: The tracking device stopped working and police began urgently tracking down the fugitive 

October 26, 2021: Baluch was due to face court but didn’t arrive. Police believe they spotted Baluch in the backseat of a black Range Rover as it travelled east on the M4 at Croydon.

November 4: Police raid homes in Potts Hill and Yagoona in Sydney’s south-west in their manhunt for Baluch. They seized more than $250,000 cash, about 200g of cocaine, 485g of an unknown substance, mobile phones, and an electronic money counter

November 5: Organised crime squad commander Detective Superintendent Rob Crichlow said police are closing in on the hunt to find the fugitive and believed he was still in NSW.

November 10: Baluch is captured by police on the NSW-Queensland border when police intercepted a truck. Baluch was found hiding in the boot of a Mercedes SUV in a shipping container on the back of the truck. 

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