Taxi driver was courier linked to £1m cannabis seizure, court hears
A taxi driver was an alleged courier for an Asian crime gang linked to the seizure of nearly £1m of cannabis, the High Court has heard.
Prosecutors claimed phone messages connect Somalian national Abakar Mohamod to Chinese suspects arrested during a police operation in Belfast last month.
Mohamod, 38, and a passenger were in a car stopped on the M22 as it headed towards Londonderry.
Crown lawyer Natalie Pinkerton said officers recovered bags of herbal cannabis with a potential street value of £490,000 from the vehicle on January 9.
The taxi's sign was in the boot and the meter was not running, she told the court.
Two other Chinese men were detained in the Shore Road area of Belfast on the same day, one of them allegedly carrying a bag with £70,000 worth of identically packaged drugs.
Searches of a nearby property uncovered another consignment of herbal cannabis valued at £390,000.
Mohamod, a father-of-six with an address at Woodstock Road in the city, denies charges of possessing and conspiring to supply Class B drugs.
During police interviews he claimed to know nothing about his co-accused.
Mohamod said he had arranged to pick up a Chinese man and woman and take them to Derry for a fixed price of £150.
Opposing his application for bail, Ms Pinkerton contended that phone records contradict his account.
"There's extensive communication between this applicant and his co-accused," she said.
"It's believed he's part of this organised crime gang - even if it's as a courier."
Turlough Madden, defending, told the court Mohamod has lived in Northern Ireland since 2011 without being on the police radar until now.
Counsel argued there was no evidence he handled any of the drugs found in the car.
Referring to the prosecution's alleged portrayal of his client as a driver for the gang, Mr Madden submitted: "One would question how trusted Mr Mohamod was if he wasn't trusted to drive by himself."
Refusing bail, however, Mr Justice Huddleston held: "There's a risk of re-offending and a flight risk."
Belfast Telegraph Digital