A man arrested in England in connection with a £1.25m drugs seizure at Larne Port told police he had swallowed 100 wraps of heroin, a court heard today.
ohammed Khan, 22, is believed to have made the claims in a bid to avoid being brought to Northern Ireland for questioning about the consignment of cocaine and cannabis, a detective said.
Khan, of Salt Street in Bradford, was remanded into custody charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
The haul was discovered during searches of a lorry that arrived on a crossing from Scotland on December 17 last year.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard seven kilos of cocaine, 32 kilos of cannabis, and five kilos of ketamine were found inside the vehicle’s cab.
The driver of the lorry, 60-year-old Donald Moore, from Forthriver Road in Belfast, is currently on bail facing charges connected to the seizure.
Khan was detained on Wednesday by PSNI’s Organised Crime Unit following inquiries with police in Yorkshire and West Midlands.
A detective said he has been identified by CCTV footage and surveillance as the individual allegedly involved in an exchange with Moore at a service station in England.
Khan took an empty bag from the cab and returned with it, heavy and full, moments later, it was claimed.
“When I stopped that vehicle in Larne that very identifiable bag had these seven blocks of cocaine within it,” the detective said.
Opposing bail, she stressed the cocaine’s high levels of purity.
“We believe this would be an indication of a person with reasonable standing within the organised crime gang we assert he is a part of,” the detective contended.
Doubts were also expressed that if released Khan would ever return to Northern Ireland.
“He was extremely afraid of flying and doesn’t fully appear to understand where he is,” the detective said.
“Following his arrest he told officers that he had swallowed 100 wraps of heroin, we believe to avoid going into custody and coming here.”
Those claims led to Khan being taken to hospital for medical examinations.
Asked if tests showed any sign of drug ingestion, the detective replied: “He suffered no ill effects (if he did swallow anything)”.
During cross-examination, no indication was given that Khan’s fingerprints have been found on the drugs.
Defence counsel Declan Quinn also stressed the intervening 24-hour period between the alleged handover and the seizure being made.
He told District judge Amanda Brady his client lives at home with a mother and disabled brother who depend on him.
“This (alleged offending) is completely out of character,” Mr Quinn added.
“The defendant is very much a fish out of water, he’s been crying and is indicative of someone completely out of their depth.”
Refusing bail, Mrs Brady identified s a risk of re-offending.
She said: “I appreciate he is a young man in a very difficult position and may be confused about what is really going on.
“However, this was a very substantial amount of drugs.”
She remanded Khan in custody to appear again by video-link on October 21.
Meanwhile, a 41-year-old man charged as part of the investigation is also due before the same court next month.