Mr Abo Abdo, 52, has been a prominent figure in the audio equipment industry in California and ran a series of companies selling stereos, speakers, subwoofers and digital amplifiers.
Photos distributed by police showed the intercepted drugs were hidden inside boxes carrying the names Audiobahn and Alphasonik, two of the speaker companies operated by Mr Abo Abdo.
One of Mr Abo Abdo’s former employee told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age he felt «sketchy» about the companies while working there four years ago. But he saw no sign of any involvement with illegal drugs.
US court records show that Mr Abo Abdo filed for bankruptcy in California in 2008, claiming liabilities of US$4.6 million. His debts were discharged in 2010.
Mr Abo Abdo was the president of Audiobahn International Group, which launched in 1997 and was once described in a trade publication as “a leading brand of car audio speakers and amplifiers”.
The company was later suspended for failing to meet tax requirements, according to California’s Secretary of State. Audiobahn filed for bankruptcy in 2017.
Another audio equipment company linked to Mr Abo Abdo, Alphasonik, was dissolved in 2009 but was operating again by 2015. Company documents list Mr Abo Abdo as Alphasonik’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer.
Omar Ruiz, a former sales representative for Mr Abo Abdo’s companies, said he was stunned that his former boss had been arrested over alleged drug importation.
He said it was clear both Audiobahn and Alphasonik were in a dire financial position when he worked there for around six months in 2015.
«The companies were doing very badly — that’s why I quit,» Mr Ruiz said.
«I wasn’t selling anything. People would say, ‘The equipment sucks, the equipment is cheap’.
«There were times he took a long time to pay me.
«I started getting sketchy about it.»
Mr Ruiz said Mr Abo Abdo was a «nice guy» who drove a Mercedes and lived in an impressive home in Orange County, California.
«He was very private, he kept to himself,» he said.
Mr Ruiz recalled Leonor Fajardo working in the company as an accountant.
An article in consumer electronic publication Twice said Audiobahn «quickly became a trendy car brand which did as much as $50 million annually» after its launch in 1997.
But by 2008 the company appeared «to have ceased doing business».
«Calls to five of the company’s key distributors found that all had stopped ordering from the company between two months and two years ago,» the article said.
AFP assistant commissioner Bruce Hill said on Friday a Mexican cartel, which he declined to name, was allegedly behind the drugs.
“The cartel is among one of the most powerful and violent drug trafficking syndicates in the world.”
The massive drug bust began generating media attention on the US west coast on Friday local time.
Carlos Martel, Los Angeles field director for the US Customs and Border Authority, said the seizure was «an extraordinary example of the superb and effective collaboration» between law enforcement officials in Australia and the US.
Joseph Macias, special agent-in-charge for Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles, said: «Through a collaborative effort – pooling our information, resources and expertise – we are keeping this dangerous contraband from reaching our streets and potentially saving lives.»
Matthew Knott is a Fairfax Media reporter based in the United States. He previously worked in the Canberra press gallery and recently finished a Masters of Journalism at Columbia University in New York.
Melissa Cunningham reports breaking news for The Age.