TEN days before he was arrested and charged by detectives investigating a major ecstasy supply syndicate that stretched from the Hunter to Tamworth, rising motorcycle star Hunter Ford was being lauded as the next big thing for Kawasaki Racing Team.
Ford, 20, from Anna Bay, had just signed a lucrative two-year deal to continue his burgeoning career in Europe with the goal of competing in the 2021 Supersport 300 World Championship.
But Ford was living something of a double life - rising up the ranks of the Australian junior motorcycling circuit and at the same time supplying large quantities of MDMA, or ecstasy, as a member of a significant drug supply syndicate in Tamworth.
On Wednesday, Ford appeared in Newcastle Local Court via audio visual link from jail and pleaded guilty to supplying two counts of a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and two counts of supplying an indictable quantity of a prohibited drug.
The charges relate to Ford supplying 300 tablets of MDMA at Singleton on September 19 and the same amount again on September 21.
He also admitted to supplying MDMA at Bobs Farm in October and at Anna Bay on the date of his arrest when detectives found nearly 12 grams of MDMA at his home.
Ford, who was represented by Roland Day, will next appear in Newcastle District Court on July 30 to get a sentence date.
Ford - who was announced on December 3 as starting a lucrative two-year stint in Europe as he looked to break into world championship races - now faces a lengthy stint behind bars.
He was one of at least a dozen people who were arrested in December, 2019, by detectives targeting the "party drug" scene in Tamworth and the Upper Hunter.
Tamworth man Corey Cutmore, 23, is the alleged ringleader and has been charged with 14 offences, including supplying a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug.
Mr Cutmore, who has not entered any pleas and will next appear in Tamworth Local Court on July 15, is accused of directing the activities of the alleged drug ring, as well as recruiting a minor to supply drugs.
Police claim he was involved in the supply of more than one kilogram of MDMA, or ecstasy, allegedly uncovered during the six-month police operation.
Cutmore was arrested when Oxley Target Action Group police, backed by the Western Region Enforcement Squad, stopped the car he was in at Muswellbrook on December 5, arresting him and his two passengers.
Strike Force Heyward has been investigating the supply of MDMA, or ecstasy, and cocaine in and around the Tamworth pub and club scene.