FOUR men have now been charged as part of a Werris Creek, Tamworth and Gunnedah drug ring, but a solicitor says the group is nothing more than "a group of friends supplying to one another".
Matt Gavin Groth, Jack Cassidy, and a 30-year-old Werris Creek co-accused are the latest three to be charged, after 62-year-old Colin Neville Eastham was nabbed.
The 30-year-old will front court on Friday after he was charged with drug supply and weapons offences. He handed himself into officers at Tamworth police station about 9.30am on Thursday, after a raid on a Werris Creek home on Wednesday.
Police will allege they uncovered 28g of methylamphetamine, or ice, with an estimated street value of close to $6000 at the Henry Street home, as well as a baton laden with nails.
Cassidy and Groth face up to 20 years' imprisonment if found guilty of ongoing drug supply, but were both granted conditional bail on Thursday in Tamworth Local Court.
Groth, 25, has been placed on a long list of conditions, including to: stay out of Gunnedah; not take drugs; report to police every day; and live in Tamworth with family.
His parents supported him in court and were forced to post $5000 cash to secure his release after the prosecution opposed bail.
Solicitor Garry Johnston argued the "criminal group alleged here" was "not a bikie group, not a gangland situation".
"This is a group of friends supplying to one another," he told the court.
Mr Johnston said his client had "a fairly obvious issue" with drugs and he has "strong family support to assist him" to deal with it, while on bail.
Magistrate Julie Soars said "these are very serious matters" and warned Groth he would find it difficult to get bail again if he breached any conditions.
"You have received a warning from me," she told Groth.
The drug ring allegations
The prosecution alleged in court that Groth and Cassidy were upper-level in the alleged supply ring, and they "seem to be ringleaders".
Cassidy, who appeared in the dock of the court, supported by family, "is currently on bail" for "similar matters", his solicitor Tammy White told the court.
"It's all linked; the fresh matters actually pre-date the bail matters," she told the court.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Rob Baillie said the charges were "all linked to the same operation".
Ms Soars noted Cassidy was accused of fewer transactions in the drug supply ring, but Sergeant Baillie said the number alleged meant he was "a prominent person" in the alleged drug ring.
Sergeant Baillie said Groth and Cassidy were a risk of flight because they faced lengthy terms in jail if convicted; and the protection of the community "is paramount" from drug offending.
He also submitted there was a risk the pair could interfere with witnesses or evidence, or commit further offences, "because of the network arrangement that seems to be going on in the Gunnedah area".
He asked for Cassidy's bail to be bolstered with a cash surety and curfew, so the 20-year-old did not contact co-accused; was always in direct company of family; and reported daily to police, while working and living under a night curfew.
Gunnedah's Colin Neville Eastham, 62, has denied drug supply and dealing with the proceeds of crime charges. He also faces drug possession offences and remains on bail after his arrest last month.
The police operation
In late November, police raided a property and seized what they allege is 460g of cannabis leaf; 87g of GBL, which is a depressant and a precursor to the drug GHB; and 77 testosterone tablets.
Strike Force Numboidard was launched in August by Oxley police and rural crime investigators, and backed by Gunnedah general duties officers.
The police had been trying to home in on those involved in the supply of methylamphetamine, cannabis and MDMA in Gunnedah and surrounding towns.
After three-and-a-half months of investigations, they pounced on Wednesday with the two raids.
Cassidy, from Boggabri, is accused of two counts of ongoing drug supply, participating in a criminal group and possessing a prohibited drug.
Groth is accused of two counts of supplying drugs; ongoing supply; participating in a criminal group; aggravated deposit litter; and hunting in a state forest.
Neither was required to enter pleas in court on Thursday.