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Men accused of running major drugs operations on dark web

By Alan Erwin

Published 11/08/2016

Police seized ecstasy pills, herbal cannabis and diazepam tablets worth an estimated £100,000
Police seized ecstasy pills, herbal cannabis and diazepam tablets worth an estimated £100,000

Three men are to stand trial for alleged roles in a major drugs distribution operation run on the dark web from a bedroom, a judge ruled.

They face charges connected to a suspected racket involving couriers being used to deliver MDMA and other substances across parts of Northern Ireland.

Police seized ecstasy pills, herbal cannabis and diazepam tablets worth an estimated £100,000 in separate raids on addresses in Coleraine, Co Londonderry and east Belfast 12 months ago.

Appearing before the city's Magistrates' Court today were 26-year-old Kyle Hall, Richard Sinclair, 33, and 29-year-old Stephen Rodgers.

Hall, of Chamberlain Street in Belfast, and Sinclair, from Cranagh Road in Coleraine, face a range of charges including possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply and having criminal property.

Sinclair is further accused of importing quantities of ecstasy.

Rodgers, from Glynn Park Close in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, is charged with being concerned in the supply of Class A, B and C drugs, along with converting criminal property.

The alleged offences cover a period between January 2014 and August 2015.

At a previous hearing it was claimed the operation involved drugs being bought and sold online via the dark net, and dispatched to customers in the post using the electronic bitcoin currency.

Couriers unwittingly delivered some consignments hidden inside jigsaw puzzles, it was claimed.

Police were said to have uncovered  a list of customer names, email and delivery addresses, types of drugs, quantities, purchases and sales during a swoop on Sinclair's bedroom.

Officers also recovered thousands of pounds in cash as part of the investigation.

During preliminary enquiry proceedings today defence lawyers did not resist prosecution submissions that the three accused each have a case to answer.

Hall, Sinclair and Rodgers all declined to give evidence or call witnesses at this stage in the case.

District Judge Alan White granted a prosecution application to have them returned for trial at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

Releasing them on continuing bail, he told the trio: "You will be informed of a date for your arraignment, turn up on that date."

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