A Co Donegal bread delivery driver facing charges over a £300,000 herbal cannabis seizure near Lurgan must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled on Monday.
Séamus Boyce, from Letterkenny, was refused bail amid claims he held a trusted position in a cross-Border crime gang importing the drugs recovered from his van at Derrymacash.
The 36-year-old was one of three men arrested last month as part of a joint PSNI-Garda investigation.
Also detained were Lurgan man Kieran Austin (59 from Annesborough Road, and another Donegal man, Desmond Enfield (32), from Ramelton.
Mr Boyce, of Glenwood Park, Letterkenny, is charged with possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply and being concerned in the supply of drugs.
He has claimed unidentified men threatened him into putting the consignment in his van.
Prosecutors said officers monitored three vehicles at locations in Newry and then Lurgan on April 22nd.
CCTV footage also depicts some of the suspects’ movements before police swooped at Derrymacash Road.
Fifteen 1kg bags of herbal cannabis, with a combined street value of up to £300,000 were found during a search of Boyce’s van, the court heard.
A Crown lawyer said that after being detained he told police: “Why did I get caught up in this. The party’s over now.”
She added that he claimed to have been approached and threatened by unnamed men while carrying out his delivery duties in Donegal, but declined to give detectives more details.
Opposing bail, the lawyer said: “There’s been a substantial loss to this organised crime gang and he was in a trusted position.”
Citing further concerns for Mr Boyce’s personal safety, she also revealed that shots were fired at the Co Donegal home of a co-accused last month.
Defence counsel Barry McKenna argued there is no evidence that his client has trappings of wealth or leads a criminal lifestyle.
He also confirmed that a family friend was prepared to put up a €10,000 surety to secure Mr Boyce’s release.
But denying bail, Mr Justice Horner held that release conditions could not be properly monitored on someone living outside the jurisdiction.
He added: “This was obviously a well-planned operation and police believe the applicant was a member of a gang involved in the importation of drugs into Northern Ireland.”