Lithuanian drug dealer jailed after PSNI sting
Undercover police observed 17 people waiting at a train station underpass in north Belfast to be supplied with heroin, a court has heard.
Belfast Crown Court also heard that in the last decade, the number of heroin-related deaths in Northern Ireland has doubled.
Official figures show an average of 10 people died each year from heroin and morphine between 2006 to 2010, compared to an average of 21.5 between 2011 and 2016.
The details emerged as Lithuanian Ligitas Grigalaitis was handed a 21-month sentence for being concerned in the supply of heroin in Belfast over a two-month period last year.
The 23-year old later confessed to being "a salesman" in the drugs operation.
He was told by Judge Gordon Kerr QC that he will spend half his sentence in prison, with the rest on licence.
Prosecution barrister Robin Steer told the court that Grigalaitis was part of a group known as "the Russians" who supplied heroin at various locations in Belfast, including Ormeau Park, and that on five separate occasions between February and April last year his involvement in the operation was noted by undercover officers.
Mr Steer revealed that on one of these occasions - on April 11, 2017 - a total of 17 people were waiting at the underpass at Yorkgate train station to be supplied with heroin. On that day, Grigalaitis "was seen holding a large bundle of cash".
Jailing him, Judge Kerr warned that anyone who involved themselves with supplying a class A drug could expect to go to prison.