THREE men have appeared in court after police seized £200,000 of cocaine linked to the East Belfast UVF.
Trevor McCarten, Edward Jackson and Francis Magee were arrested after officers from the Paramilitary Crime Taskforce watched the drugs being moved.
All three appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court today on drugs charges following the seizure 24 hours before.
Jackson (55) and McCarten (41) are both accused of possession of a class A drug with intent to supply, possession of a class C drug and possession of criminal property.
Magee (64) faces a single charge of being concerned in the supply of cocaine.
A detective sergeant told the court the trio were part of a drug gang that has strong links to the East Belfast UVF.
He said that at 10.30am on Friday, McCarten was seen going into his home on Tamery Pass in east Belfast, followed a short time later by Jackson, who was carrying a white bag.
Five minutes after that, Magee was seen entering the property with an orange bag before quickly reappearing without it. Jackson was then seen leaving with the orange bag, after which he was followed to a flat on the Beersbridge Road.
When officers raided the apartment, five packets of suspected cocaine with an estimated street value of £200,000 were found in the bag.
When McCarten’s home was searched, officers found a small amount of cocaine and £1,300 in cash.
Objecting to McCarten being released on bail, the officer said it was suspected he had a controlling role in the gang.
McCarten’s solicitor said the drugs were not found in client’s house, there were no forensics linking him to the drugs and he denied all involvement.
He said the cash found was winnings from gambling, to which McCarten is addicted, and that he has a clear criminal record.
District Judge Amanda Henderson refused bail, saying it was a serious investigation and there was a risk of offending.
Jackson, of Beersbridge Road, and Magee, of Cloverfield Street, both east Belfast, were remanded in custody, with bail applications to be made on June 8.