A MAN has admitted to dealing ice and $31,000 in cash after his motel room was raided by police investigating a crash where two people were later kidnapped.
Lawrence Daniel Tafra appeared in Armidale Local Court on Tuesday morning on 18 charges, accused of a highway kidnapping on the weekend.
The 31-year-old pleaded guilty to supplying the drug ice after police uncovered about 25 grams of the drug, as well as possessing more than $30,000 in cash which police claimed was the proceeds of his drug dealing.
"Police seized a quantity of the drug ice and that had the potential for 250 street-level deals, which we will allege was destined for the Armidale market," New England Detective Inspector Roger Best told the Express.
Tafra did not enter pleas to 16 other charges including two counts of kidnapping for an advantage; four counts of predatory driving; driving dangerously; armed with intent; damaging property; and driving with a cancelled licence.
He made no bid for bail and it was formally refused by magistrate Michael Holmes who ordered Tafra into custody, where he will remain until the case returns to court later this month.
Tafra was arrested at an Armidale motel on Monday morning, less than 48 hours after police allege his two victims escaped after he kidnapped them near Guyra.
Police claim it all started about 5am on Saturday when Tafra was allegedly behind the wheel of a white Holden station wagon on the New England Highway, about 8km north of Guyra.
It's the police case that the 31-year-old rammed a silver Holden Statesman, which left the road and crashed, after rolling several times. The wrecks of both cars ended up down an embankment off the side of the highway.
Police allege Tafra then kidnapped the couple inside - who were known to him.
The man and woman told police they were taken to Armidale where they were assaulted and held against their will, but managed to escape a short time later.
The pair raised the alarm shortly after and alerted police. Police confirmed the pair were then taken to Armidale hospital after suffering cuts, abrasions and bruising during their ordeal.
Both have since been released from hospital.
The New England Proactive Crime Team took charge of the investigation because of the serious nature of the allegations, and together with Armidale detectives, later homed in on the Armidale motel on Monday morning.
They moved in about 10am, and surrounded the motel on Marsh Street.
Using a search warrant, they raided the room where they uncovered the stash of cash and drugs.
Tafra was arrested and taken to Armidale police station for questioning and charged with the 18 offences.
If found guilty of the allegation of kidnapping, Tafra faces a maximum penalty of up to 14 years' imprisonment.
Police have confirmed investigations are continuing into the weekend's incident, but Detective Best said the seizure of ice would have an impact not only on the local drug scene, but also on other crime.
"The drug ice causes a lot of angst in the community and is one of the primary drivers of property crime, so to seize that quantity of the drug, we would expect that to have an impact on other crime categories, especially property crime," he said.