Man jailed after offering to sell soil disguised as heroin in Belfast
A man known as one of "The Russians" has been jailed for offering to sell soil disguised as heroin in Belfast city centre.
Vadims Brovkins, 30, was handed a four-month prison sentence after he admitted approaching other users with the fake drugs.
A judge told the Latvian national, of Riverside South in Castledawson, Co Derry, that he had been involved in a significant commercial exercise.
Brovkins was arrested in the Castle Place area of the city on July 8 last year.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard several members of the public had pointed him out to police, claiming he had offered to sell them heroin.
"He was one of a group colloquially known as The Russians," a prosecution lawyer said.
Seaches recovered bags of suspected heroin in his pockets.
Brovkins told police they were sham packages made up from dirt and designed to make money at known drug hotspots.
The prosecutor added: "He admitted approaching users to sell fake heroin to those addicted to the substance in the city centre."
Brovkins pleaded guilty to a charge of offering to supply Class A drugs.
Defence solicitor Kevin McDonnell argued that his client had been "destitute" after a family fall-out led to him moving to Belfast.
"He had been using heroin himself," Mr McDonnell said.
"He took some soil and used it to try to make some money."
But District Judge Fiona Bagnall insisted there could have been consequences for others.
"This was a commercial exercise he was engaged in," she said.
Imposing a four-month sentence, Mrs Bagnall ruled: "This passes the custody threshold, and in my opinion it's immediate custody."
Belfast Telegraph Digital