Willie Mason’s brother arrested over ‘drug syndicate’
THE brother of former NRL star Willie Mason will spend Christmas behind bars after being charged over a large-scale drug manufacture and supply syndicate.
A shirtless Leslie Mason, 40, was arrested at his home in Newcastle on Thursday as police swooped on a five-man operation that allegedly involved a "filthy" clandestine drug lab.
One-time heavyweight boxer Mason was charged with large commercial drug supply, which carries up to a 15-year jail term if proven, and with participating in a criminal group.
He did not apply for bail in Newcastle Local Court on Friday, meaning he will stay in custody until his next court appearance on February 19.
Police also arrested 28-year-old Rose Bay man Aaron Macey and three other men - Matthew Pearce, 35, and brother Brett Pearce, 33, and Jay Ramsden, 28 - who live in the greater-Newcastle area, where much of the syndicate's alleged business took place.
Matthew Pearce was charged with 10 offences including commercial drug importation and manufacture drugs.
Police allegedly found large quantities of cocaine, GHB and cash in a number homes during Thursday's raids and uncovered a laboratory in the Lake Macquarie suburb of Wangi Wangi.
"The prohibited drugs we will allege were manufactured in filthy conditions and it's a strong warning to people who are intent on taking drugs and parents," Supt Daniel Sullivan said outside court.
Police from Strike Force Castlestead, which began investigating the syndicate in September, are expecting to make further arrests.
The 201cm-tall Mason tried to follow his brother into professional sport, having a go at heavyweight boxing in 2007 with reasonable results - three wins from four bouts, including two by knockout.