A Warilla couple accused of trafficking methamphetamine and cannabis across much of southern NSW were busted mid-count as they tallied up almost a million dollars in drug profits kept inside an Albion Park Rail storage unit, a court has heard.
Police will allege former rugby league identity Beric 'Bez' Burns, 53, and his 47-year-old girlfriend, Shellharbour City Council cleaner Natascha Consigli, were responsible for directing a "sophisticated" drug syndicate that had tentacles stretching for hundreds of kilometres.
It is alleged Burns was the kingpin, with police labelling the outfit a "sophisticated, well-planned and meticulously organised criminal syndicate" which they claim was responsible for the supply of "mid-to-large quantities of methamphetamine and cannabis throughout the western and southern regions".
It will be alleged Consigli acted as Burns' delivery driver and also helped him ensure the smooth running of the group's day-to-day operations.
"The pair's distribution network was not only contained within the Wollongong and Lake Illawarra regions, but throughout NSW including Goulburn, Bathurst and Nowra," police documents tendered to Wollongong Local Court on Friday said.
The court heard police set up Strike Force Kimbricki in August this year to investigate drug supply in the region, utilising phone taps, surveillance bugs and stakeouts to gather evidence of alleged drug dealing.
It will be alleged Burns had almost daily contact with a third co-accused, Logan Figg, who regularly purchased meth from Burns to on-sell to clients.
Police allegedly recorded multiple phone calls between Burns, Consigli and Figg in which the sale and purchase of drugs was discussed, however it is alleged both Burns and Figg used codenames in a bid to avoid police detection, such as "drinks" and "shots".
Detectives also revealed they had gathered physical surveillance of Consigli delivering drugs to Figg on multiple occasions in her Hyundai i30, the court heard.
Police will allege they were watching and listening on December 7 when Burns and Consigli donned latex gloves and counted large bundles of cash kept inside boxes in a storage container at National Storage at Albion Park Rail.
The pair tallied up $943,000 before appearing to spray what police believe was disinfectant over the boxes.
Officers claim this was a "clear attempt to conceal their fingerprints and DNA from being detected".
Police raided the storage unit on Thursday, along with properties at Warilla and Port Kembla. Burns and Consigli were arrested and taken to Lake Illawarra Police Station where they were charged with a host of drug-related offences.
Burns, whose LinkedIn profile says he is the director of B&R Publishing Pty Ltd at Port Kembla and the co-founder of the now-defunct Rugby League Player Magazine, did not apply for bail during a brief mention of his matter in court on Friday.
Burns was overheard calling out "I love you bub" to Consigli as he was returned to his cell and Consigli ordered before the court.
Meanwhile, Consigli sought release on bail, with her lawyer, Rodney Boyd, saying his client proposed to live with a close family friend at Farmborough Heights and would agree to have no contact with Burns or Figg.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Amelia Wall opposed Consigli's release, claiming the case against her was strong.
She tendered photos taken from the surveillance device planted inside the storage unit which she said showed the pair had been caught "red-handed".
"She wasn't an innocent party to these offences," Sgt Wall said.
However, Magistrate Claire Girotto agreed to release Consigli on bail and imposed strict conditions including a nighttime curfew.
Both matters will return to court on February 9
The Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers. You can subscribe to support our journalism here.