A magistrate has failed to grant bail to a young Shellharbour roofer accused of running party drugs for a "sophisticated criminal syndicate", despite his family agreeing to post a $10,000 surety to secure his release.
A large contingent of family and friends attended Wollongong Local Court on Friday to support 18-year-old Ryan McAllister - one of five young men arrested on Thursday as part of a Lake Illawarra police investigation into the supply of party drugs in the Shellharbour area.
Of the remaining four, only one was granted police bail on Thursday, to appear in Port Kembla Local Court in November.
The other three - Keiran Daniels (aged 27, from Kirrawee), 27, Joshua Kemper (aged 22, from Lake Heights) and Jarrod Turk (aged 21, from Unanderra) - were remanded in custody and appeared in court on Friday, where each was refused bail.
During McAllister's bid for bail, defence lawyer Cate Doosey tried to argue that her client's stated role in the syndicate as a street seller placed him at the "lowest end of the pecking order".
"He's the street level public face, he's in an ancillary role," she said.
However, Magistrate Susan McGowan said the police fact sheets painted a different picture of McAllister's involvement, suggesting he appeared to be a "significant participant".
Court documents reveal police set up a strike force earlier this year to investigate the supply of ecstasy, cocaine and ketamine in the region.
It is alleged police have evidence linking McAllister to more than a dozen drug deals alleged to have taken place at various locations between July and October, including two transactions where 56 grams of cocaine was exchanged for $13,600.
Police will allege Turk, Kemper and Daniels were each recorded supplying larger, commercial-sized quantities of MDMA to buyers, some of whom turned out to be police informants.
McAllister was arrested at 4.30pm on Thursday, allegedly in the middle of a deal worth $27,700.
Daniels, Turk and Kemper were arrested two hours later while allegedly carrying out a separate deal in the carpark of the McDonalds at Albion Park Rail.
All four are facing a variety of drugs charges, the most serious of which carry up to 20 years behind bars.
In court on Friday, Daniels' family also hoped to secure his release with a $10,000 surety, however this too was rejected by Magistrate McGowan.
She noted the case against all four men appeared strong and they would likely face jail time if convicted.
"I know they are only allegations but they are strong allegations," she said.
The cases were adjourned to next Wednesday for mention.