Belfast Telegraph

Co Down businessman linked to drug gang hid £64k in freezer, court told

By Alan Erwin

A Co Down businessman allegedly linked to a "significant" drugs and money laundering operation must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

He Li, 34, was refused bail amid claims he is connected to a gang using WhatsApp messages to arrange the delivery of herbal cannabis packages to different addresses.

Prosecutors said nearly £65,000 in cash and multiple kilos of the drugs have been seized during searches that formed part of the investigation.

Li, a father-of-two from Kinnegar Court in Holywood, faces charges of converting, concealing, transferring and entering an arrangement to acquire criminal property.

He is also accused of possessing cannabis and conspiracy to supply a Class B drug.

The court heard Li was first arrested on February 6 after a vehicle was stopped at an Asda car park in Larne.

Searches at his home and a second address led to the recovery of more than £64,000 in cash - some in a freezer and under a microwave.

Also seized were mobile phones, handwritten notes in Chinese, bank lodgment slips and allegedly false passport documents.

Crown lawyer James Johnston claimed a related examination of a laptop uncovered social media conversations between Li and a co-accused about sending packages to various addresses.

WhatsApp chats allegedly referred to addresses where quantities of cannabis were found, the court heard.

Mr Johnston also contended Li was using an employer's bank account to "launder the ill-gotten gains".

Defence barrister Sean Devine told the court his client worked in the restaurant trade after arriving in the UK nearly 20 years ago.

He argued that Li has spent more than three months in "austere" prison conditions and could be trusted for release.

But denying bail, Madam Justice McBride held there was a risk of further offences.

She cited prosecution claims that Li was part of an organised gang involved in significant drugs and money-laundering offences over a protracted period.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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