Gympie couple jailed after raid finds meth worth $90,000

A GYMPIE couple who called the drugs they were selling "puppies" or "horse riding lessons" to try to avoid police detection have been jailed.

Between December 2011 and January 2013 Michael Robert Rooney and Belinda Jane Gehringer ran a drug operation from their Deep North Creek property.

In a three-month period, while police were tapping their phones, Rooney, 56, met with customers 60 times and Gehringer, 50, another 33 times to supply drugs or collect money.

Police began targeting Rooney through an investigation into north coast drug dealers. They tapped the pair's phones and found they used different codes for drugs with different customers.

For some customers they referred to drugs as tools, for others the drugs were eggs, puppies, timber slabs or horse riding lessons. Police found the couple had 12 regular customers as well as a number of irregular ones.

After police broke the codes, an undercover agent worked his way into the couple's good graces telling them he was there to pay off another customer's debt. Gehringer told him they sold meth by the gram as other amounts were "too fiddly".

When the undercover officer bought 3g from them he found they were short-changing their customers.

Police raided the pair's Deep North Creek property on January 16, 2013. They found $11,000 in cash and a debt book noting a further $16,000 of outstanding drug debts.

In bushland just outside their property, police found an esky containing $9000 of marijuana and 400m away an old army ammunition box containing $90,000 worth of meth and a loaded pistol.

The marijuana was packed into bags holding about 28g. The meth was packed into bags the pair told customers weighed 1g - but in fact each contained around 0.8g.

Rooney and Gehringer pleaded guilty to trafficking, possessing an illegal weapon and other drug charges at Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday - the day they were originally set to go to trial.

They were sentenced on Thursday - Rooney was jailed for seven years and Gehringer for five. No parole recommendation was made.

Topics:  court crime drugs editors picks

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