‘Trusted member of crime gang’ remanded in custody

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

A man accused of being a member of an organised crime gang allegedly importing drugs into Northern Ireland has been refused bail.

The 30-year-old, who cannot be named because of an anonymity order, was referred to in court by the initials ‘AB’.

He is charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis and being concerned in the supply of the class A and class B drugs.

The charges relate to the seizure of £125,000 worth of drugs on June 13, last year.

Derry Magistrates Court heard that this was one of six seizures of drugs, worth an estimated £2 million, allegedly connected to the organised crime gang.

An investigating officer told the court police believe AB is a ‘trusted member of this organised crime gang close to the principal member’.

It is alleged the 30-year-old’s role ‘is to organise the distribution of these drugs throughout Northern Ireland.

The court heard claims ‘AB’ was in contact with the principal member 81 times on June 13. It is further alleged both men were using ‘dirty phones’ which would be disposed of after the drugs arrived.

He was also allegedly in contact with the man arrested with the drugs 50 times that day and was described as the ‘main man’.

It was revealed to the court that some of the drugs seized were 60 per cent purity, which allegedly shows the gang is working at a ‘significantly high level’.

The court also heard that 20 people have been arrested in connection with the six drugs seizures and more than half have been released on bail.

Opposing bail, the investigating officer said police fear the 30-year-old may commit further offences.

He said police ‘believe he is a member of this crime gang, a very busy crime gang and he is a very close associate of the person police say is the principal member’.

Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott said it is likely there will be a substantial delay before the case is ready for trial.

He added that the evidence against his client is ‘entirely circumstantial’ and no dirty phones have been recovered which are directly linked to him.

District Judge Barney McElholm refused bail.

The judge said there is a ‘strong prima facie case’ against ‘AB’ and the fear of further offences is ‘sufficient to refuse bail’.

The 30-year-old was remanded in custody and will appear in court again via videolink on February 26.