Police have swooped on a man accused of setting up a methylamphetamine supply shop in an upmarket northern Illawarra hotel room.
Police allege Roberto Losco intended to sell ice and other drugs from Austinmer's Headlands Hotel, after arranging for a hireling to book out a room in her name.
Police investigators were watching as the woman, Codi Burke, allegedly checked into the seaside accommodation on Losco's behalf on Wednesday.
CCTV allegedly then captured Burke, Losco and Losco’s alleged paid runner, Peter Francis Ryan, carrying bags into the room.
Police moved in after the trio departed empty-handed, allegedly finding $8500 in the room's book safe, 580 grams of methylamphetamine, 117 MDMA tablets, 4.71 grams of heroin and 1.6 grams of a fentanyl compound. Police also allegedly found a container of the so-called ‘coma in a bottle’ drug, GBL.
The bust was the culmination of a two-month operation by Wollongong Drug Unit’s Strike Force Aperta, which had been secretly watching and recording Losco after pinging him as a main supplier of methylamphetamine and and GHB.
Police allege Losco uses rental accommodation and hotel rooms – booked by different people to avoid raising suspicions – for drug supply purposes. They have allegedly recorded him attending the rooms on multiple occasions, and supplying prohibited drugs at least 25 times.
The 39-year-old faces a raft of serious allegations – 11 charges in total, stemming from the hotel room search and a subsequent raid on his Fairy Meadow home, where police allegedly found drugs and weapons. He allegedly had $5460 in his shorts when arrested. He did not apply for bail at Wollongong Local Court on Thursday.
His alleged lackey, Ryan, faces fewer charges, linked to the alleged discovery of 91 grams of methylamphetamine and 15 grams of cannabis in the car he was driving when he and Losco returned to the hotel and were stopped by police.
There were exclamations of shock from Ryan’s supporters in court Thursday as he was refused bail.
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His Legal Aid lawyer, Mr Ye, had pointed to Ryan’s clean criminal history and said it was unlikely the 41-year-old would be jailed, if convicted.
“This matter will not conclude for at least a year,” Mr Yee said, adding Ryan’s court case would be delayed by the lengthy processes likely to surround Losco’s.
“Mr Ryan is likely to spend a significant time in jail, not because of his charges but because of his co-accused charges.”
Mr Yee proposed strict bail conditions, including a curfew and that he live with his mother at Berkeley, and not contact anyone with alleged links to the criminal group.
But Magistrate Michael Stoddart refused bail, citing prosecution concerns about potential for interference and the “strong” police case.
“The are very serious offences … it seems to me a very strong case against Mr Ryan and his co-accused, who’s charged with even more serious matters,” he said.
“It’s put to the court that he’s unlikely to receive a custodial sentence. I don’t necessarily agree with that submission because it appears Mr Ryan has been driving the main person around and … has been observed on CCTV. And in the car that he’s driving, a large amount of drugs has been located.”
Both matters return to court April 3.