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NI man denies being involved in European drugs gang, court told

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A 26-year-old man was the third person to be detained in Northern Ireland as part of a European-wide police investigation into the alleged movements of large quantities of drugs across Europe, a court heard yesterday

A 26-year-old man was the third person to be detained in Northern Ireland as part of a European-wide police investigation into the alleged movements of large quantities of drugs across Europe, a court heard yesterday

A 26-year-old man was the third person to be detained in Northern Ireland as part of a European-wide police investigation into the alleged movements of large quantities of drugs across Europe, a court heard yesterday

A 26-year-old man was the third person to be detained in Northern Ireland as part of a European-wide police investigation into the alleged movements of large quantities of drugs across Europe, a court heard yesterday.

The defendant, Bobby Smith, from Cappagh Avenue in Portstewart, denied during his interviews with investigating officers that he was a senior member of a trans European drugs gang.

The Magistrate's Court in Derry was told yesterday that he was arrested in his home on Monday.

He denies possessing and conspiring with others to possess cocaine and cannabis.

The defendant also denies making arrangements with others to facilitate the retention of criminal property and he further denies being concerned with others in transferring criminal property.

He's alleged to have committed the offences between March 25 of this year and Monday of this week when he was arrested.

A barrister for the Public Prosecution Service told District Judge Ted Magill that the evidence against the defendant included encrypted mobile-phone data which he said included "a huge number of relevant messages on the transfer, costs of and payments for drugs".

The prosecutor said the police believed the defendant was a senior member of an organised criminal gang.

Other alleged gang members he said had yet to be apprehended in an ongoing international investigation and the barrister said after his arrest the defendant made no comment to all questions put to him by detectives.

Applying for bail, defence barrister Ben Thompson said the police managed to gain access to the encrypted communications network in the spring as a result of which their "evidential yield covered a two to three month period".

He said the defendant "vehemently denies" the allegations made against him and that when the defendant's house was searched on Monday there were no signs of wealth associated with such alleged drugs activities, no cash consistent with the allegations made and no data connecting the defendant to other parties.

Mr Thompson said the defendant denied that he was in any way involved in anonymously engaging in any encrypted network to obtain illegal drugs.

He added that two other men arrested in the high profile police investigation have both been granted bail at the High Court, one after lodging a cash surety of £40,000 and the other after lodging a cash surety of £15,000.

The District Judge said that he had to take into account the fact that two co-defendants had already been granted bail.

He then released the defendant on his own bail of £1,000 and adjourned the case until August 17.

Mr Magill said as part of his bail conditions the defendant had to reside at his current address and observe a 10pm to 7am curfew.

The defendant will also be electronically monitored and he's banned from possessing a mobile phone.

Belfast Telegraph