Undercover police officers posed as drug addicts as part of a major investigation into a heroin supply system in Co Armagh, the High Court heard today.
Eight alleged dealers were arrested during a three-month operation centred in the greater Portadown area, prosecutors said.
Details emerged as bail was refused to one of those accused of involvement in the narcotics trade.
Floyd Hobson, a 29-year-old courier driver from The Glebe in Portadown, faces charges of possessing, supplying and being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.
Prosecution counsel claimed he dealt heroin to undercover officers during eight incidents between November 2015 and January 2016.
Audio and video recordings allegedly depict him supplying them with test purchases, the court heard.
Lord Justice Gillen was told that when Hobson was shown a compilation of the tapes he made full admissions.
“He said his reason for doing so was that he had a drug habit himself, of cocaine, and he was involved because he was paying off a debt of £5,000,” the prosecutor added.
Defence barrister Joel Lindsay claimed two separate factions were believed to be trading in heroin in the area.
Detectives no longer believe Hobson is linked to one suspected gang of five Portguese arrested in the operation, according to the lawyer.
He said another man had introduced his client to the police investigation team when they were pretending to be addicts.
Stressing that no money nor trappings of wealth were recovered from Hobson, Mr Lindsay argued that the accused had dealt no more than £300 worth of heroin wraps.
But Lord Justice Gillen warned that the alleged crimes could result in a lengthy prison sentence.
Denying bail due to the risk of further offending, he insisted: “The public need to be protected.”