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Wiretaps used to bust alleged Charleville meth ring

WIRETAPS and an undercover officer were deployed by Charleville Police in an investigation into an alleged methamphetamine ring which led to a number of arrests on Thursday morning.

Police told the Western Times 21 properties in Charleville, Morven, Wyandra and Toowoomba had been raided as part of Operation Oscar Verde.

Detective sergeant Ian Armbruster said the operation began mid-January, and police had seized cannabis, methamphetamine, a number of drug utensils, firearm parts and cash.

The operation involved police from Longreach, Toowoomba, the state drug investigation unit, and drug detection dogs from Brisbane - around 31 staff in total.

Two men appeared in Charleville Magistrate's Court yesterday afternoon charged with in total eight counts of supplying dangerous drugs. More fronted court today.

Magistrate Peter Hasted refused bail to Phillip Anthony O'Neil and Andrew Wayne Read this afternoon, considering them both an unacceptable risk of re-offending.

An undercover officer purchased half a gram of methamphetamine as part of Operation Oscar Verde, police told Charleville Magistrate's Court this afternoon. Police also presented phone tapped text messages as evidence at the bail hearing.

The police prosecutor alleged 35 year-old Read weighed bags and counted money for others. But his lawyer Frank Jongkind said his involvement was largely peripheral and that he was not implicated in bringing drugs into Charleville.

The court was told Andrew Read works as a roo shooter's offsider, and receives Centrelink payments.

Phillip Anthony O'Neill had tears in his eyes as his lawyer argued the father of seven had family responsibilities he could not meet if he were behind bars.

Defence lawyer Laurie Parker argued some of Mr O'Neill's children were sick and he was required to drive them virtually weekly for sports practice.

The Charleville Magistrates Court was told he works 10-12 hours a day and is an industrious man.

His wife, who watched from the audience, cried after the decision.

Both defendants will appear for a committal-mention in August.

Several more people have been arrested in relation to Operation Oscar Verde, but police are still compiling a final count.

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