Three people arrested in the Shoalhaven for what police have described as one of the largest online drug supply network in the state, if not the country, have been refused bail.
Cody Ronald Ward, 25, of Callala Beach, Shanese Koullias, 24, of Callala Bay and Patricia Koullias, 20, of Quakers Hill have faced Nowra Local Court each charged with supplying prohibited drugs being part of a criminal group and knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.
Ward was also charged with knowingly direct activities of criminal group.
It is alleged the dark web, cryptocurrency and postal services were used in the supply of the illegal drugs and prescription medications.
The elaborate set up is alleged to have been worth $17 million.
In April 2018, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Criminal Groups Squad established Strike Force Royden to investigate criminal networks involved in the supply of illicit drugs in NSW.
As part of their inquiries, detectives allegedly identified a technologically-sophisticated online drug distribution network operating from the South Coast and engaged investigators from South Coast Police District and the Cybercrime Squad.
Following extensive investigations, Strike Force Royden detectives, with the assistance of Australia Post, intercepted 85 post parcels and seized a variety of prohibited drugs of varying weights on Wednesday, February 13.
From 10.30am on Thursday, February 14, investigators, assisted by Strike Force Raptor, executed four search warrants at properties at Callala Bay and Callala Beach and a fifth search warrant at a home at Quakers Hill.
During the searches, police seized more than 200 grams of MDMA, a total of 2.5kg of white powders, believed to be cocaine, amphetamine, diazepam, and other illicit substances; 100,000 LSD tabs, cannabis, boxes of Xanax disguised as candy, blue and yellow pills, believed to be illicit drugs; as well as more than $80,000 cash, documentation, a laptop computer, electronic storage devices, mobile phones, a vacuum sealer, a label maker, money counters, and other items related to the packaging and distribution of illicit drugs.
Investigators also seized three vehicles, a Lexus, a Mercedes-Benz, and a Ford Falcon. Inquiries into the ownership of a fourth vehicle – a Maserati – are continuing.
Specialist detectives conducted a technical exploitation of electronic exhibits and an analysis of cryptocurrency wallets, and seized cryptocurrencies, which are alleged to be the proceeds of crime.
While this analysis is ongoing, initial inquiries indicate that more than $17 million has been transacted through the wallets in recent years.
Ward has been charged with six counts of supplying a prohibited drug commercial quantity, knowingly direct the activities of a criminal group and knowingly deal with the proceeds of crime.
Police allege Ward was the ringleader, operating as an online vendor on the dark web and supplying prohibited drugs, including cocaine, MDMA, LSD, cannabis, methylamphetamine (ice), amphetamine, and prescription medication.
He did not appear before Magistrate Gabriel Fleming in Nowra Local Court on Friday, with his solicitor Brett Ford not applying for bail. He will reappear in court on April 12.
Shanese Koullias faces six charges of supplying a prohibited drug commercial quantity, knowingly participate in a criminal group and knowingly deal with the proceeds of crime, while Patricia Koullias faces five charges of supplying a prohibited drug commercial quantity and knowingly participate in a criminal group.
It is alleged the women were involved in the preparation, packaging, and distribution of prohibited drugs, which had been ordered on the dark web.
They also didn't apply for bail through duty solicitor Rosie Lambert. They will reappear in court on February 22.