Drug dealer jailed over ‘lucrative’ meth trafficking operation

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Amber LilleyKalgoorlie Miner
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A Kalgoorlie-Boulder man who spearheaded a “lucrative drug business” that included the trafficking of meth across State and regional borders at the height of last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns has been jailed for more than six years.

Jackie Paul Edwards’ drug dealing came to an abrupt end in April last year when police raided his Hannan Street home after searching his car and tapping his phone.

The 42-year-old this week faced the Kalgoorlie District Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to 32 drug-related charges.

These charges included a conspiracy to have meth delivered to Kalgoorlie- Boulder after it had travelled from over east to Perth during a meth “shortage” amid last year’s COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The court was told Edwards made 27 offers to sell or supply the drug between January and April last year, with prices ranging from $300 for 0.5g to $6000 for 10.4g, paid to him via bank transfer, Pay ID and Indue card transfers.

The court was told Edwards was first arrested when a drug search of a car he was travelling in found 5.5g of meth, but he was later released on bail.

The “lucrative drug business” came crashing down on Edwards when local law enforcement decided to monitor him from February last year, which included intercepting phone calls and text messages to and from the man’s phone.

During this time, the court was told, Edwards was involved with several drug deals across town.

The court was told Edwards also used the drug himself after the struggles of living in transitional housing following a stint in rehabilitation, issues with his employment, and falling back in with the wrong crowd led him back to substance abuse.

On April 2, 2020, police intercepted multiple phone calls and messages relating to Edwards needing more meth to fill local demand, with discussions around getting the drug couriered from Perth.

The court was told these discussions were fruitful for Edwards — despite a payment mix-up that had him pay twice for one supply, costing him $19,950 up-front — with the delivery arriving in Kalgoorlie-Boulder on April 19.

The court was told Edwards tested the supply that afternoon, but did not think it was very good, and discussed the possibility of him and a co-accused from the Goldfields-Esperance region putting “something else” in it to improve it.

Following this exchange, police discovered more phone calls and messages arranging the sale and supplying of meth, as well as 14g of cannabis.

Judge Amanda Burrows said the charges involved a “significant amount” of the drug and despite Edwards’ defence lawyer Paul Gazia telling the court his client was “lower in the chain” than other people, the judge said it was clear he was not a “low-level dealer”.

Mr Gazia said his client had been struggling financially, eating only baked beans and eggs, and receiving no income other than Centrelink payments.

Judge Burrows said with meth the “stock and trade” of his “lucrative” and sophisticated drug business, Edwards was the “principal beneficiary” and had commercial gain.

She told the court the offending was not an isolated event and the greater the amount of meth in the community, the greater the harm caused by the drug.

Judge Burrows said Edwards had made “significant amounts of money” through drug dealing and had a bank balance of more than $15,000.

She told the court Edwards had a history of dabbling in and out of meth use, which was said to have peaked previously in 2017 when he admitted to the court he was spending $1000 per day on securing the drug for personal use.

Edwards was sentenced to six years and six months behind bars and will be eligible for parole after serving four years.

Judge Burrows said Edwards, originally from New Zealand, was not expected to oppose his deportation, with his home country said to be the “best place for (his) rehabilitation”.

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