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Crystal meth factory found near Belfast school, court told

Prosecutors claim eastern European crime gang link

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Shimna Close in east Belfast. Credit: Google

Shimna Close in east Belfast. Credit: Google

Shimna Close in east Belfast. Credit: Google

A dangerous suspected crystal meth factory was discovered at a house in east Belfast, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors claimed an eastern European crime gang is linked to the chemical manufacturing operation which could have caused an explosion close to a local school.

Details emerged as two brothers arrested at the Shimna Close property on December 18 last year were refused bail at a hearing on Monday.

Slovakian nationals Mario Uricek, 45, and Vojtech Uricek, 42, deny charges of being concerned in producing a Class A drug.

They had just moved into the house and were cleaning it out when police arrived, a judge was told.

Officers went to the area after neighbours reported a strange smell coming from the property.

Inside they found quantities of suspected crystal meth and associated production equipment. The two accused were detained at the scene.

Opposing bail, a Crown lawyer said the pair are believed to be connected to an eastern European crime gang behind the drug-making operation.

"This type of crystal meth is a highly dangerous substance to produce. The chemicals are volatile, which could cause a risk of explosion," she added.

"This was being made in a highly populated street, with a local primary school and park nearby."

Defence barrister Sean Mullan said his clients insisted they knew nothing about anything going on at the house.

"There had been previous tenants at the property, and when (the two accused) moved in they were cleaning it out," the barrister submitted.

"They deny any involvement in any form of crystal meth factory."

But Mr Justice O'Hara described the explanation given by the brothers as "beyond credible".

He pointed out: "They were arrested by police in the house, which had a new form of highly addictive crystal meth plus manufacturing equipment.

"On the information before me at present it's impossible to think they were just cleaning out the house before they were about to move in."

Bail was refused due to the risk of further offences, and concerns the two defendants may flee if released.

Belfast Telegraph