The ninth person arrested in connection with a sophisticated Illawarra party drug syndicate allegedly headed by twin brothers Joel and Flinn Westman has been identified in court as the pair's close friend, Scott Dean Crowther.
Crowther, from Dapto, stands accused of "playing an active role in the day-to-day dealings" of the alleged drug network, which police claim sold tens of hundreds of dollars worth of cocaine and ecstasy across the Illawarra for at least three months before being shut down by police in mid-August.
Officers carried out dawn raids on several properties on August 16, including the Wonson Avenue home shared by Flinn and Joel, and Joel's girlfriend, Nikita Campbell.
The trio was arrested, along with the twin's older brother Daniel, their friends Hunter Harrison and Shaun Lane and Lane's brother-in-law, Graeme Ashfield. Nikita Campbell's brother was arrested and charged the following day.
Crowther, whose house was also searched during the joint raids, was overseas in the USA at the time, however returned to Australia on Friday morning and was promptly arrested.
Police will allege they located an air pistol, an expandable baton, knuckle dusters and - alarmingly - a NSW Police issued name plate/badge inscribed with the name of a serving detective sergeant.
Crowther was charged with weapons and gun offences, as well as one count each of dealing with proceeds of crime and participating in a criminal group.
Police will allege Crowther twice acted as a stand-over man for the group, the first time threatening a buyer over the phone on July 14 while he (the buyer) was allegedly in the presence of the twins, who then took the man's car to pay the debt.
On the second occasion, a week later, Crowther allegedly extorted another customer, threatening violence towards the man if he didn't pay up. The man was so scared of the repercussions he took out a loan to repay the $10,000 group immediately, police said.
Documents tendered to Wollongong Local Court on Friday afternoon said police also have video and audio surveillance allegedly showing Crowther's involvement in supplying the syndicate's drugs and retrieving money owed to the group.
Crowther sought release on bail during his court appearance, with defence lawyer Jordan Mechan arguing the case against his client in relation to the weapons found was not a strong one.
"He's been out of the state and country for quite some time," he said.
"It's my submission the prosecution will have difficulty proving the weapons are his."
However, Magistrate Michael Stoddart said the case against Crowther appeared a strong one on face value, given the amount of covert evidence gathered by police.
He refused to release Crowther from custody and adjourned the case for eight weeks for police to serve the brief of evidence on Crowther's legal team.