3 February 2023

Alleged synthetic heroin trafficker told co-accused, 'you gotta be sneaky', court hears

| Albert McKnight
syringes on an unmade bed

Police alleged drug paraphernalia was found during a search after two people were arrested in January. Photo: ACT Policing.

A police officer has told a court he has no idea how a man accused of trafficking synthetic heroin can afford anything without allegedly dealing drugs.

Kristaps Fridemanis, a 36-year-old from Cook, was arrested along with 43-year-old Annette Lea Keir in early January 2023 before both were refused bail and remanded in custody.

“You know you’ve gotta be quiet, you gotta be sneaky, you gotta keep things close to your chest; it’s the only way to get things done,” he is alleged to have told her at some stage.

ACT Policing said after their arrest, officers raided premises in Fyshwick and allegedly found a considerable amount of property they believe was stolen.

During this raid, and one previously conducted in Hawker, they allegedly seized more than $30,000 in cash, about 300 bottles of liquor, about 70 Lego sets, as well as equipment and documents relating to drug production.

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Fridemanis applied for bail again in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday (31 January), where a police sergeant was questioned about the case against him.

“I don’t know how the defendants afforded to do anything in life other than by drug dealing,” the sergeant said.

He was also asked about bottles of alcohol mentioned in the court documents outlining the case.

He alleged people would supply stolen bottles to a co-accused to receive drugs that cost a third of the price of the alcohol.

For instance, a person would allegedly get about $300-worth of drugs for $1000-worth of stolen alcohol.

The sergeant also alleged police seized what seemed to be a recipe for GBL, or gamma-butyrolactone, from premises under Fridemanis’s control.

But under questioning from defence barrister Travis Jackson, the sergeant admitted it could take months to get the transcriptions of telephone intercepts ready for the case and a brief of evidence might not be available until this time next year.

Along with noting the delay, Mr Jackson argued there was no risk of flight or deportation for his client. He was born in what is now Latvia when it was the USSR, and due to the way he came to Australia, he is unable to get a Latvian passport.

The barrister also claimed if the married father-of-one was refused bail again, the delay in the case could mean 18 months behind bars before a trial.

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Magistrate Beth Campbell said Mr Jackson made a strong case about the delays inherent in the criminal justice system, namely to do with forensic evidence, and it was unacceptable for someone to be kept in custody for a long period in respect of those delays.

However, she also said this was just the beginning of the case and she was not satisfied the delays would be so unreasonable to justify bail.

“I’m not prepared to release you into the ACT community and bail is refused,” she said, adjourning to 28 March.

Fridemanis indicated not guilty pleas to fresh charges of trafficking synthetic heroin as well as dealing with $33,000 that is suspected to be the proceeds of crime, which were laid in addition to his previous charges.

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