Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Police quiz man about £16m cannabis haul from 1996

A 46-year-old Belfast man was released last night after being questioned by police over the seizure of cannabis worth £16 million almost 13 years ago.

The man was arrested yesterday by detectives from the organised crime unit of the PSNI. He was released last night pending reports to the Public Prosecution Service.

Cannabis weighing 1.7 tonnes was found by Garda and customs officials on a vessel called the Whiskey Plongeur in Kilrush, Co Clare, on November 10, 1996.

The foreign-registered boat was on its way to Malin Head, Donegal, when it developed engine trouble.

Northern Ireland businessman Colin Lees was jailed for 12 years in 2000 for what a judge said was his “pivotal role” in the aborted plot, one of the largest ever drug smuggling operations in Ireland.

Ian Symington (44) from Sandmist Road, Ripley, Surrey, was given a suspended prison term in 2001 for his role in the plot.

Symington, who is originally from Co Down, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting others who were assisting Lees in the plan.

Lees was released in 2003 but jailed again two years later after he was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court over a conspiracy to supply drugs worth more than £31m. He is still in jail.

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