A Chinese man arrested following the discovery of £760,000 worth of herbal cannabis last week could be at risk from members of a south-east Asian crime syndicate, a police officer told a court.
The officer made the comment during the hearing of father-of-two Frankie Huang (33) from Meadowcroft, Dromore, in Co Tyrone, on drugs charges.
The defendant appeared at the Magistrate's Court in Londonderry charged with possessing 38 kilos of herbal cannabis, possessing the drug with intent to supply it, being concerned in supplying it and cultivating the drug.
Opposing bail, the police witness told District Judge Barney McElholm that the drugs were found in a house at Leckagh Drive in Magherafelt, Co Derry, on Monday of last week.
The house was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act and the herbal cannabis was found in bags in the attic.
Following the discovery, another Chinese national, Zheng Chang (34), was stopped by police driving a car along a motorway on the outskirts of Belfast. Inside the car, officers found £35,000 in cash.
The police witness said that Chang, of no fixed abode but from the Magherafelt area, was currently in prison custody on similar charges to Huang.
A house was then searched in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, where the police found three illegal Chinese male immigrants, £80,000 in cash and a number of illegal identity documents.
The officer said that Huang was arrested after police identified a car registered to him on CCTV footage from three commercial premises in Magherafelt.
During his interviews, the defendant said he was the legal tenant of the house and he confirmed that a man on the CCTV footage was him.
“We believe the house was a drying house where the drug is packed before its distribution.
“The operation involves a south-east Asian criminal gang syndicate. We believe the defendant is a member of the syndicate, but we have yet to establish his rank. We believe he may now be at risk from the gang,” he said.
Bail was refused and Huang was remanded in custody until October 11.