A Berkeley woman's lawyer has claimed she was not the "La Madrina of Wollongong" but was under duress when she allegedly became involved in a large-scale million-dollar drug syndicate.
Suzanna Ristevksa, 41, was refused bail in Wollongong Local Court after she was one of five people to be arrested on Wednesday as part of early morning police raids following an ongoing investigation into an alleged methamphetamine and heroin ring operating between the Illawarra and Sydney.
Ten search warrants were carried out at homes in Coniston, Berkeley and Sydney where about 1.5kg of methamphetamine, 340g of cocaine, heroin, two unauthorised prohibited pistols and about $100,000 in cash was seized.
The estimated potential street value of the drugs was $1 million.
Her husband, Feras Abdul-Hamid, was arrested in July over his alleged involvement in the syndicate and remains in custody. The court heard police had intercepted their phones and were surveilling the couple.
Ristevska was arrested in July and granted bail over serious drug offences. Fresh charges were laid on Wednesday for further alleged commercial supply of meth that occurred prior to her July arrest.
Police also allege Risteveska breached her bail when she orchestrated associates to enter the Albion Park police holding yard to find drugs in a seized car in August.
The court heard there was no evidence of a break in and the drugs were already locked up.
Defence lawyer Martin Zanolla claimed his client was under duress when police allegedly captured her saying, "they're literally breaking in right now, I'm stressing out" while on the phone to her associate.
"It boils down to a situation where a woman has been bullied and threatened into doing the bidding of her husband, and when she doesn't do it, she is quite badly beaten," he said. "She is at most a pawn.
"[Police] are trying to make her out to be the 'La Madrina' of Wollongong but nothing could be further from the truth.
"She is a scared, vulnerable woman who has been mistreated by her violent husband. The characterisation that she is an organised crime big-wig is not true."
Police prosecutor Sergeant Amelia Wall said there was no evidence in the intercepted phone calls to indicate Ristevska was threatened into allegedly tampering with evidence.
"My submission is she was not under duress and she was well aware of what she was doing and was having a conversation to discuss an arrangement to try to find the vehicle," she said.
"The case against Ristevska is strong."
Magistrate Claire Girotto disagreed with Mr Zanolla's attempt to downplay his client's involvement, saying the intercepted phone calls allegedly put her in the centre of the conspiracy.
She refused to release Ristevska as she was already on bail, adding a custodial sentence was likely. Ristevska will return to court in November.
As part of the Strike Force Mote investigation Michael Brisbane, 53, was arrested at a home in Carringal St, Berkeley.
He was charged two counts of taking part in the supply of a commercial quantity of prohibited drugs, two counts of participating in a criminal group and contributing to criminal activity, and dealing with property proceeds of crime.
Clay Trevena, 40, was also arrested his home in Jutland Avenue, Coniston with police alleging he also moved the drugs, and attempted to dispose of illicit drugs down the toilet.
He was charged with seven offences including supplying a commercial quantity of prohibited drugs and tampering with evidence.
Both men are expected to apply for bail on Friday.