WHEN police who had spent 11 weeks monitoring the many calls and texts of a prolific methamphetamine dealer finally arrested him in Newcastle last year they found $82,000 in cash packed neatly in a backpack.
It was a discovery perhaps emblematic of James Joseph Francer's drug supply operation - unsophisticated yet lucrative.
In November, 2019, police established Strike Force Chufa to target Francer, now 40, who goes by the nicknames "Johnsy" or "Cowboy", and his methamphetamine supply operation.
Between November 20 and February 6, 2020, police combed through some 1600 calls and 5600 text messages and conducted physical surveillance of Francer, confirming that he was heavily involved in the supply of methamphetamine to various customers and from various locations around Newcastle.
They followed him to club and pub car parks in Waratah, Mayfield, Lambton and Newcastle, watched as he supplied ice in shopping centre car parks or outside apartments, tyre shops and storage facilities.
In total there were 23 occasions when Francer supplied a total of 251 grams of methamphetamine, according to court documents.
On one occasion, in late December, 2019, Francer supplied a customer with 141 grams, or five ounces, of methamphetamine in Newcastle.
Finally, after watching and listening for the best part of three months, police swooped on February 11, arresting Francer as he got out of his car in King Street, Newcastle. Inside the car police found a small quantity of methamphetamine, a taser device, a tick list with names and amounts of drugs and a blue coloured backpack with $82,550 in neatly bundled cash. Francer was offered an interview but gave a "no comment" to every question.
On the day of Francer's arrest police arranged for his storage sheds at Mayfield to be double locked to prevent anyone from entering. A few weeks later they searched the sheds and found a loaded shortened sawn off shotgun in a grey pillow case.
Initially charged with more than 20 counts of supplying a prohibited drug, including supplying a commercial quantity of methamphetamine, Francer's charges were rolled up into two counts of supplying prohibited drugs on an ongoing basis in relation to the 23 drug deals, dealing with the proceeds of crime less than $100,000 and possession of a shortened firearm.
He pleaded guilty to those offences and will be sentenced in Newcastle District Court in May. Francer, who was granted bail in June last year, faces a maximum of 20 years in jail.
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