An Illawarra mechanic has been granted strict conditional bail amid allegations he let his Port Kembla shopfront be used as a storage facility for $80,000 worth of illegal drugs.
Cameron Hooper, 27, stands accused of allowing two associates to store almost half a kilogram of meth inside a locked tool box in his Military Road business, AC Automotive.
Officers attached to the Lake Illawarra drug unit raided the shop on the evening of September 30, seizing 482g of crystal methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, a firearm and ammunition.
The drugs had an estimated street value of $80,000, police said.
Hooper was arrested on Wednesday morning and charged with knowingly take part in the supply of a commercial amount of drugs, participating in a criminal group, knowingly allowing his business to be used as a drug premises, possessing an unauthorised Hunter Frontier .22 calibre pistol and possessing ammunition.
Another co-accused, Primbee man Leti 'Sammy' Tugaga, was arrested in Guildford on Wednesday and taken to Fairfield Police Station, where he was charged with commercial drug supply, possessing a prohibited drug and participating in a criminal group.
Tugaga chose not to apply for bail during a brief mention of his matter in Wollongong Local Court on Thursday.
A third man was arrested at a home on Shearwater Drive, Berkeley and charged with the same offences as Tugaga but was granted conditional bail to appear in Port Kembla Local Court on November 4.
Meanwhile, Hooper successfully sought bail during his appearance in court on Thursday, with his lawyer, Matt Ward, saying Hooper had no knowledge of any alleged drug dealing.
"There's a real possibility that Cameron Hooper is an innocent pawn and has been used as a patsy by others," he said.
"Just because we choose our friends poorly doesn't make us, specifically, involved in the allegations before the court today."
Hooper's case will return to court in December.