A suspected wholesale drug dealer has been freed on bail after he was allegedly busted with a trailer carrying cocaine worth up to $180,000.
Jomal Nchouki had been behind bars since his arrest in the Belconnen Bunnings carpark on April 30, but on Thursday appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court where he made a bid for bail.
Prosecutors opposed his release, saying he was accused of possessing a large amount of cocaine, he was apparently a wholesaler, and the illicit enterprise may have been ongoing more than a year.
The 26-year-old doesn't have a criminal history and has pleaded not guilty to the charge of trafficking in a controlled drug other than cannabis.
Prosecutors said the cocaine found in the raids on Mr Nchouki's home and car was 18 ounces, some 70 times the trafficable amount.
It was an amount worth between $120,000 to $180,000, the court heard.
There were multiple messages found on his phone that pointed to the Denman Prospect man rounding up money to pay for the drugs, it's alleged.
And the large amount of cocaine in the trailer was packaged in freezer bags of about an ounce each, suggesting he was at on the wholesale side of the distribution network, they said.
There was also the loss of the drugs which had been confiscated by police, which prosecutors said had likely left Mr Nchouki with a large debt and pressure to repay it.
Prosecutors also pointed to a "typical, thug-like" threatening message it appeared Mr Nchouki had sent to another person and then forwarded to a friend, including the threats:
- "He'd better speak to me, I want him to understand I'm the closest thing to the motherf----n devil himself he's ever gonna come across if he wants to have a crack and f--- with my family."
- "C----s I've had harder s---s than this plastic gangster, you and him together don't even amount to 1/10 of the c---s I've turned out, and had crying in there [sic] own s--t and p--s."
- "Motherf-----s don't you know what I am capable of? I want to smash your [sic] and his teeth with a hammer, shatter your jaw, rearrange your face and smash your hands."
But a barrister for Mr Nchouki, John Purnell SC, said the message had been sent by a mutual acquaintance to another person, and Mr Nchouki had only forwarded it on to a friend to laugh about it.
Mr Purnell said there was a real question mark over the prosecution case because police did not have a warrant to search Mr Nchouki's trailer, only his car.
There were cheers and cries of relief from a large group of his supporters in the public gallery when Magistrate Glenn Theakston granted Mr Nchouki bail.
Mr Nchouki, who appeared wearing prison blues via videolink from the Alexander Maconochie Centre, said: "Thank you Lord" and appeared visibly relieved.
The magistrate said there was a risk Mr Nchouki would commit crimes while out on bail but his young family "sways me to think that risk can be adequately addressed by bail conditions".
Mr Nchouki will be subject to strict bail conditions including a curfew and not using encrypted messaging apps.
He has also been charged with being an unlicenced driver but is yet to enter a plea on that charge.
He is next due in court on July 15.
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