A man allegedly agreed to collect £400,000 worth of herbal cannabis smuggled into Northern Ireland to pay off a £700 drug debt, the High Court heard on Monday.
David McCaughan picked up the consignment from a lorry driver in Belfast after it was shipped over from Scotland, a judge was told.
His lawyer said he has admitted his involvement, but was only a “runner” for other more senior figures.
McCaughan, 57, of Ghent Place, Belfast, was one of three men arrested in a police operation in April.
He faces charges of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs and possessing herbal cannabis with intent to supply.
Five boxes of cannabis were seized after being moved from the lorry into a waiting Volkswagen Passat at Boucher Retail Park.
According to the prosecution the car belonged to McCaughan.
Twenty kilos of the drugs, with an estimated £400,000 street value, was recovered in total.
Telephone evidence allegedly links the three suspects to the case.
As McCaughan applied for bail defence counsel Joe Brolly said is client has made full admissions and provided police with details.
“He suffers from an arthritic condition and started to smoke cannabis years ago and got into debt,” Mr Brolly told the court.
“He owed £700 to one of the gentlemen involved in this enterprise and he was asked to go and do this message to pay for that debt. He did that.”
The barrister added that it was accepted by McCaughan that he is facing a jail sentence.
But he contended there was no risk of any re-offending.
“The police attitude is that in the hierarchy he is simply a runner, performing a message on the day,” Mr Brolly said.
“There is no suggestion he himself is involved in the drugs trade.”
However, Mr Justice Burgess adjourned the bail application for another judge to decide whether there had been enough of a change of circumstances.