Drugs accused ‘members of crime gang’ court is told

Police believe that two men and a woman accused of drugs offences are members of a ‘highly sophisticated crime gang’ a court has heard.

A PSNI officer made the claim as the three defendants appeared at Londonderry Magistrates Court.

All three accused were granted anonymity by the District Judge Barney McElholm.

On hearing an outline of the case, Districct Judge McElholm granted the application to prevent publication of the defendants’ details after he heard that one of them had a threat issued against him five years ago by ‘vigilantes’.

The court also heard that anyone linked to drugs in this city were under a perceived threat from vigilantes.

A 30-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman were jointly charged with conspiring to supply cocaine and being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

They were further charges involving conspiracy to supply cannabis and being concerned in the supply of the class B drug.

Meanwhile, a 40-year-old man was charged with possessing cannabis with intent to supply, being concerned in the supply of the class B drug, possessing cocaine with intent to supply and a further charge of being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

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

Londonderry Magistrates Court heard allegations that the 40-year-old man was seen by surveillance officers loading packages from a car into a wheelie bin, owned by the 44-year-old woman.

The bin was seized and police allegedly found five kilograms of cannabis, with a street value of £100,000 and 250 grams of cocaine with a street value of £25,000.

The court heard that other evidence in the case relates to mobile phone traffic and the alleged use of so-called ‘dirty phones’ for the sole purpose of criminality.

The phones were allegedly thrown away once drugs had been delivered or seized by police.

All three defendants applied for bail.

Opposing the applications, an investigating officer told the court police believe all three defendants are ‘members of a highly sophisticated crime gang who are supplying deadly class A and class B drugs’.

He added £2 million worth of drugs have been seized from this gang since September last year and police fear the defendants will commit further offences to ‘recoup their losses’.

The officer said police also had fears the trio would fail to surrender to court as they ‘face lengthy custodial sentences if convicted’.

District Judge McElholm refused bail for fear of further offences.

He said the supply of drugs is an ‘extremely serious matter for the community’ and the fear of further offences is ‘very high in case like this’.

All three defendants were remanded in custody and will appear in court again via videolink at a later date.