11 January 2023

Alleged synthetic heroin trafficker accused of moving 'substantial' amount of drugs

| Albert McKnight
Drug paraphernalia on a bed

Police allege drug paraphernalia was found during a search warrant after two people were arrested on Monday. Photo: ACT Policing.

Bail was refused for a man accused of trafficking synthetic heroin after a prosecutor alleged evidence suggested he had been moving a “substantial” amount of drugs in the Canberra community.

Police arrested 36-year-old Kristaps Fridemanis and 43-year-old Annette Lea Keir after a suspected drug deal late on Monday night (9 January).

Officers searched Fridemanis’s car and allegedly found up to 21 clip-seal bags containing substances that police suspect could be illicit drugs, including methylamphetamine and synthetic heroin.

When they raided his home in Cook, they allegedly found more similar items, over $2200 cash and chemicals often used in the manufacture of illicit drugs.

ACT Policing said due to the allegedly hazardous nature of the chemicals, the residence was evacuated.

The prosecutor said there was an alleged “high-level sophistication of drug trafficking” when Fridemanis applied for bail in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday (10 January).

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She alleged there were hundreds of suspicious comments between him and Keir, including discussing the effects of synthetic heroin on customers.

“More charges are likely to follow given the circumstances,” the prosecutor said.

Legal Aid’s Georgia Le Couteur, appearing for Fridemanis, said the alleged facts of the case claimed police found chemicals during a search, but those chemicals had not been described.

She said he worked on a causal basis in construction, which combatted the assertion from police that he was financing his and his family’s lifestyle through the alleged conduct.

When Keir also applied for bail, her duty lawyer Jeremy Banwell said it appeared no presumptive testing of the substances police seized had taken place, so it was not yet clear what they were.

Also, nothing had been recorded about the weight of the substances, he said.

Mr Banwell said Keir, from Coombs, had said she was a sex worker, which could explain some of the communications she was being investigated over and the slang she used in them.

“There’s an enormous question mark over the prosecution case at this stage,” he argued.

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However, Magistrate Glenn Theakston refused bail for both of them.

He said he would refuse bail for Fridemanis due to the scale and nature of the allegations. When it came to Keir, he said the allegations described against her were “sophisticated” and a serious example of trafficking.

Fridemanis was charged with trafficking synthetic heroin, receiving stolen property and dealing with property suspected of being the proceeds of crime, while Keir was charged with trafficking heroin and receiving stolen property. The stolen property charges allegedly relate to wine.

They were remanded in custody and will next appear in court on 31 January and 7 February, respectively.

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