Bail refused to man linked with drugs gang

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Phone traffic allegedly links a Co Donegal man with the activities of one of Northern Ireland’s biggest drugs gangs, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said a specialist media strategy led police to suspect Benjamin Quinn’s involvement in controlling couriers who were stopped with cocaine and cannabis valued at £58,000.

Details emerged as 27-year-old Quinn, of Rossgier in Lifford, was refused bail.

He was arrested with a second man last week and charged with conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs.

The alleged offences relate to consignments seized in the Duncrue area of Belfast back in February 2017.

It was said to be the fifth of six interventions made as part of an ongoing police investigation.

Crown lawyer Kate McKay told the court detectives had commenced an operation against “one of Northern Ireland’s largest criminal networks”.

She contended: “A detailed, forensic digital media strategy has identified the defendant Benjamin Quinn as being involved in controlling the couriers on behalf of the principal of the crime gang.”

Mr Justice Horner heard telephone analysis allegedly connects Quinn to a chain of contact between suspects.

Defence counsel argued that the case against his client is limited to allegedly offering “logistical support” for just one of the seized drug consignments.

“The evidence relates to phone traffic and he’s not (said to be) at the top of that structure,” the barrister added.

“He has provided police with access to his phone.”

Despite those submissions the judge ruled Quinn must remain in custody.

Mr Justice Horner said: “I consider that bail should be refused in this case because of the risk of reoffending, the risk of flight and the risk of interference with witnesses.”