How police caught meth trafficker

A METH trafficker bragged to a customer that he always stayed "one step ahead" of police - blissfully unaware they were recording every word.

Bradley Alan Hilton , then 24, was arrested in 2016 when Operation Papa Journey took down four syndicate leaders responsible for smuggling ice from Cairns to Mt Isa.

Hilton and co-accused Russ Johnson were two of 27 people identified by police as active in the ring that onsold the meth in the Gulf Country the mining town.

The pair were recorded in 285 phone intercepts.

Crown prosecutor Nigel Rees today told Cairns Supreme Court Hilton had boasted that he avoided arrest and said "I'm always one step ahead."

He also installed CCTV in his house and refused to drive at night.

The numerous phone taps recorded Hilton discussing "competitive rates" for Johnson including a "daily special" and discounts for bulk sales.

He referred to his co-accused's drug debt as the "Johnson bill."

By the time police searched Hilton's Mt Isa address he had sold at least 94.2g of ice with a street value of $47,700.

Hilton had hidden $28,205 throughout the residence including $11,100 on his person divided into $150 packets.

Hilton pleaded guilty to trafficking, supplying, possessing and producing a dangerous drug and to one weapons charge for improperly storing a firearm.

The court heard the matter had "languished" for two years between charge and final sentence.

"There is an alarming slowness in getting through the labyrinthine committal process that some magistrates dictate," Justice Jim Henry said.

But Hilton did not take advantage of the two-year reprieve and remained in the thrall of the drug he was dealing.

"You did not display the will power to break free from your drug use problem," Justice Henry said.

"Some times the hard reality of quarantine in custody is the only thing that can have that affect."

He jailed Hilton for five years and three months, with a parole eligibility date of April 3 2020.