A POLICE investigation, which had been hailed as ‘taking thousands of pounds of drugs off the streets of the north west’, has been shelved after charges against the defendants were withdrawn without prejudice.
At North Antrim Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday the Public Prosecution Service revealed that due to the time limit of the case they had no other option but to withdraw the charges against the accused.
The PPS said: “Due to the timetable set out last month we have to withdraw all charges against the defendants without prejudice.
“We will now proceed by way of indictable summons.”
The operation by the PSNI’s Organised Crime Squad saw eight searches being carried out in Ballymoney, Coleraine and England in April last year.
Thie led to charges of transferring criminal property and conspiring to supply a class ‘A’ drug being brough against Andrew Rosenberg (28), Jade Wooden (25), Mark McMullan (40) and Ryan Glass (37).
Janice Evangelista (34) was also charged with possession and supply of a class ‘A’ and possession of a class ‘C’ drug.
A quantity of suspected cocaine and cash was found at addresses in Kent, England where Rosenberg and Wooden both live following searches by Kent Police as a result of the Northern Ireland investigation.
Rosenberg, who runs a runs a web-based business, which supplies Lidocaine, a chemical which has similar side effects to cocaine, but is used by various groups including pharmaceutical companies, admitted under interview that the money belonged to him.
In their first court appearance last year a barrister for Rosenberg raised concerns that the powder found had not been properly analysed by forensic officers and told the court a ‘package’ sent to Rosenberg by one of the co-accussed was the only thing to link him to the case.
District Judge Peter McGill urged police to fast track the forensic analysis.
A boat, two jet skis and two motorcycles were also seized in relation to the investigation, which focused on the supply of drugs in the Coleraine, Portrush and Portstewart areas and had been going on for several months.
But lack of progress in the case has now led to all charges being withdrawn at this time.