Man pleads guilty to all 7 charges

ONE of the Tamworth men at the centre of an alleged illegal gun and drug ring has pleaded guilty in court.

Matthew Leigh Smeekes appeared in Tamworth Local Court on Monday for the first time after his arrest earlier this month.

The 33-year-old was charged following a raid on a Lemon Gums Dr home in July where detectives discovered an air rifle, pistol, ammunition and cannabis.

He was arrested by officers attached to Strike Force Rutter nine days after the raid.

The specialist operation was established by Oxley police in May to investigate the possession of illegal firearms and drug supply in the Tamworth area.

Smeekes is charged with two counts each of possessing a prohibited drug and possessing an unregistered firearm, as well as possessing an unauthorised firearm, not keeping the firearm safely stored and keeping ammunition without a licence.

A solicitor for Smeekes said her client was pleading guilty to all of the charges but she had concerns regarding one charge matter which listed two firearms.

Magistrate Michael Holmes accepted the seven pleas and continued Smeekes’ bail.

The case returns to court next month.

Five people have now been charged in connection to the investigation with a string of weapons, drugs and conspiracy to commit robbery offences.

Two other men remain on bail, while a South Tamworth man is still in custody.

A woman will front court on charges connected to the investigation later this month.

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