17 September 2022

Four charged over alleged bikie-linked cocaine network across Canberra region

| Albert McKnight
Bikie uniform items

Strike Force Sulfur allegedly seized these items during raids across Canberra and Queanbeyan on 13 September. Photo: NSW Police.

Two men are in custody and two are on bail after police accused them of being involved in a major cocaine network across the Canberra and Queanbeyan regions that has links to the Comancheros.

Joshua Lachlan Cassie, 27, Andrew Hallam, 25, and 33-year-old Peter Robert Ellis all appeared before the Queanbeyan Local Court on Wednesday (14 September) to face drug-related charges, while another co-accused will face court in October.

NSW Police established Strike Force Sulfur last September to investigate drug supply in the Queanbeyan and Canberra areas.

On Tuesday (13 September), officers raided eight homes in Queanbeyan, Jerrabomberra and Franklin in the ACT with help from the dog unit, Australian Federal Police and ACT Policing.

Police allegedly seized cocaine, steroids, testosterone, restricted prescribed substances, electronic devices, prohibited weapons, including a .22 calibre firearm, a replica pistol, knuckle dusters and flick knife, as well as outlaw motorcycle gang paraphernalia and almost $70,000 in cash.

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The four men were arrested, and in documents tendered to the court for Mr Cassie’s bail application, police allege the syndicate he was involved in used connections with the Comancheros to procure cocaine.

Magistrate Greg Elks said Mr Cassie was alleged to be a principal offender in what could be described as “a very well thought out supply network”.

When opposing his bail application, prosecutor Sergeant Breanna McLean said the year-long police investigation involved phone intercepts and covert surveillance.

She alleged Mr Cassie had been recorded discussing the supply of drugs. She alleged a “large amount” of cocaine was supplied, while there had also been a large movement of cash involved.

Anastasia Qvist of Fortify Legal argued it appeared the alleged offending ended in April 2022, which coincided with her client’s demonstration of rehabilitation.

He had no antecedents, no pattern of non-compliance with court orders and had been left “in limbo” between when he was arrested at 9:30 am on Tuesday and when he got the specifics of his charges at 5 pm that afternoon, she said.

However, Sergeant McLean alleged his offending continued into May and July. Magistrate Elks ultimately thought the prosecution had a strong case and refused bail.

Lawyer Andrew Herring said Mr Hallam would not apply for bail and he was remanded in custody.

Bail was not opposed for Ms Qvist’s client Mr Ellis and he was released.

Their matters will return to court on 8 November. No pleas have been entered.

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Mr Cassie’s charges include supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, supplying prohibited drugs on an ongoing basis, knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime, participating in a criminal group that is contributing to criminal activity, and knowingly deriving material benefit from a criminal group.

Man in a car

Joshua Lachlan Cassie, 27, has been refused bail over drug charges. Photo: Facebook.

Mr Hallam’s charges include supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and participating in a criminal group that is contributing to criminal activity, while Mr Ellis’s charges include supplying a prohibited drug and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.

A 37-year-old man was also arrested at a home in Queanbeyan and handed charges that included possessing a prohibited drug and supplying a prohibited drug.

He was granted conditional bail to appear in court on 10 October.

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