Surveillance ‘led to £180k drugs find’

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POLICE surveillance led to the seizure of drugs worth up to £180,000, Belfast High Court has heard.

Details emerged as bail was refused to Aidan Austin, 36, of Lever Park, Portstewart, who was one of five men arrested after the drugs were allegedly transported from Portstewart to a Bangor shopping centre car park last December.

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

A judge said the drugs and cash found pointed to a “major trading operation”.

The drugs consignment is alleged to have included cocaine and amphetamines.

Belfast High Court was told on Wednesday that a dummy run had been carried out a week before the seizure was made last December.

Mr Austin is allegedly linked to the operation through contact between his mobile phone and two brothers who are among the co-accused.

A defence barrister stressed that the case against his client was based only on phone traffic.

But Mr Justice McLaughlin told him it could potentially be compelling circumstantial evidence.

The judge also pointed out: “This is not an operation that just materialised because somebody had a good idea.

“This is part of a police surveillance operation.”

He added that the amount of cocaine and amphetamines seized meant those involved were allegedly able to “have sufficient contact with criminals of a similar mind to be able to rendezvous twice with them in Bangor”.

Bail was denied due to the risk of any further offending.

Mr Justice McLaughlin said: “This is not a casual dabbling in drugs. This is a major drug trading operation.”