Insta model, mum-to-be, RAAF man in mega cocaine bust
Police have smashed Sydney's Christmas cocaine market, arresting more than 40 alleged dealers whose occupations cut across society - from a taxi driver to a model, a pregnant mum and even a member of the air force.
In total, plain-clothed police rounded up 84 people in six days across November and December for alleged cocaine supply and possession - the most charged in a single operation by the drug-busting Strike Force Northrop since it began in 2017.
Forty-six of those arrested were alleged dealers and police seized 350g of cocaine and $70,000 cash.
A 24-year-old pregnant woman was allegedly caught dealing in Cronulla when police pulled over the car she was travelling in on Eloura Rd at 7pm on November 30.
Police allegedly found $2970 in cash, four mobile phones and more than 13g of cocaine concealed in an energy drink can.
She and the 25-year-old male driver were each charged with supply and dealing with the proceeds of crime and granted conditional bail to front court next month.
Prolific Instagram model Vera Zinger, 23, was pulled over on Shelley St, Barangaroo, at 4.30pm on November 29, when police allegedly found four bags containing a total of 2g of drugs along with $2150 cash.
She was given a court attendance notice for two counts of supply prohibited drug, possess prohibited drug, deal with proceeds of crime and ordered to front court next month.
Three days later she was treating her 86,200 Instagram followers to another dazzling post - this time a photo shoot on the stairs above Bronte baths, promoting skimpy swimwear.
In the past year Zinger has posted from some of the world's most enviable locations - the Amalfi coast and Positano in Italy, Greek islands, Croatia, Spain and resorts in Dubai.
On the day Zinger was arrested, real estate agent Alexander Papadimatos, 22, whose online profile for Ray White South Coogee says he is a "highly motivated, goal-driven person", was stopped in his Toyota Corolla near the intersection of Bent and Macquarie streets in the CBD.
Police allegedly found 10g of cocaine in a hidden compartment and $300 cash before charging Papadimatos with four offences including supplying an indictable quantity of cocaine and not displaying his P plates.
He was granted conditional bail in court the next day.
There is no suggestion Zinger, Papadimatos or any of the alleged dealers were connected to each other.
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Bell ran the Northrop investigation and said he was stunned dealers were so barefaced in their alleged offending and was amazed at the cross-section of professionals involved.
"We're quite astounded how brazen some of these drug transactions have become, they're often occurring in highly visible locations and in crowded places in the CBD and suburb," Chief Insp Bell said.
"This time was the most we've arrested when we've run one of these operations. There are a number of people from well-respected professions that were arrested and are now before the courts. It's unfortunate but now some of them will spend Christmas behind bars."
A 23-year-old member of the RAAF was also accused of moonlighting as a cocaine supplier when police pulled over his Kia Stinger at a Bondi petrol station on November 30 and allegedly found 7g of the drug and $1555 cash. RAAF fatigues and Defence-issued T-shirts were in the car.
He was charged with two counts of supply prohibited drug and deal with proceeds of crime to front Waverley Local Court next week.
A pug had to be taken into police custody after it was found restrained in the back seat of a VW Golf which was pulled over in Clovelly at 5pm on December 7.
The 31-year-old owner was arrested after cocaine was allegedly found hidden in the waistband of his pants and cash was found in the car.
The man was charged with supply, possession and proceeds of crime at Waverley police station while the dog was dropped to another of its owners.
A taxi driver had allegedly been dropping off more than his passengers before he was stopped on Lime St, Barangaroo, on November 30.
Police allegedly found 13g of cocaine, two mobile phones and $3400 cash in the 51-year-old's cab and charged him with supply and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
Chief Insp Bell said Northrop detectives were now going after the bigger players supplying the street-level dealers arrested in the operation.
"This operation will continue … and we will look at investigating matters higher up the criminal network and, as we have in the past, charge them with supply," he said.
Chief Insp Bell said investigators would access the contact lists of phones seized from the arrested alleged dealers and send a message to customers.
"Your number has been involved in a cocaine investigation, if you can help us please contact Crime Stoppers," the message will say.