Belfast Telegraph

Pair in court linked to £7m Northern Ireland drugs import operation

By John Toner

A man and woman appeared in court on Saturday on charges linked to what police describe as a drug importing operation worth up to  £7 million.

The pair were arrested in south Belfast on Thursday following searches by the PSNI’s Organised Crime Branch which uncovered cannabis with a street value of £1m.

Mei Juan Gao (37) and her male co-accused Chun Guo Pan (48) – both Chinese nationals – were remanded into custody after appearing at the city’s magistrates' court on a string of charges including possessing drugs with intent to supply.

A police officer told the court that in addition to £1m worth of cannabis seized during the south Belfast operation, a further £750,000 worth of the drug had been uncovered in the postal system.

He also said they estimate some 40 packages weighing a minimum of 5kgs each had slipped through the net.

The officer said: “The case also relates to 40 packages not seized containing a minimum of 5kgs of herbal cannabis each, the smallest estimation for that is just under £5m.”

The 37-year-old woman was arrested in the Stranmillis area of Belfast while co-accused Pan was taken in to custody near the Lisburn Road.

A solicitor acting on behalf of both defendants said: “Mr Pan has given an interview to a very limited degree, both of them have significant language difficulties.

“Both are relatively vulnerable persons to some degree due to financial and migration issues, they have no bank accounts and no cash.”

Gao is alleged to have been in possession of a fake Chinese passport when she was arrested whilst Pan is accused of being in possession of a phony driving licence.

Neither accused applied for bail.

Gao, of no fixed abode, faces a series of charges including possessing  a class B drug with intent to supply, conspiracy to supply a class B drug and transferring criminal property.

Pan, also of no fixed abode, faces similar charges and is also accused of possessing a class A drug, overstaying a temporary visa and having a false driving licence.

In a statement last week following the arrests, Detective Inspector Pete Mullan said: “These arrests and seizures are evidence of our ongoing commitment to removing and disrupting the illegal supply of drugs into Northern Ireland.

“The seizure of these drugs has removed a substantial amount of cannabis and prevented £1m from falling into the hands of organised criminals who profit from other’s misery.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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