Cannabis worth £300k smuggled into NI from Spain, court told


Herbal cannabis worth £300,000 was smuggled into Northern Ireland from Spain hidden inside a chest freezer, the High Court heard.

Prosecutors said the consignment formed part of an operation to deliver drugs to fake businesses set up in Co Antrim.

Details emerged as bail was refused to a 30-year-old man allegedly linked to a suspected distribution centre being run from a commercial unit.

Ian Greer, of Chichester Park East in Ballymena, faces charges of conspiracy to fraudulently import cannabis and attempted possession of Class B drugs with intent to supply.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, said the case related to a police investigation into deliveries to bogus firms.

She said 10 pallets have been identified as being sent from the same account holder in Spain to various fake companies in the wider Ballymena area since September last year.

One delivery destined for a sham business at a lock-up unit in Randalstown was intercepted by detectives in Newtownabbey on March 2, the court heard.

Mrs McKay said: “The package was opened and found to contain almost 30kg of herbal cannabis concealed within a new chest freezer.”

According to the barrister the drugs were wrapped in 45 vacuum packets inside heavy-duty packaging and was due to be delivered to the bogus company the next day.

She confirmed the consignment’s estimated street value as being £300,000.

Greer, who also faces a charge of possessing a quantity of herbal cannabis, was arrested as part of the ongoing police investigation.

It was claimed that CCTV evidence links him to the lock-up unit.

Mobile phones seized from the accused allegedly revealed text messages, including one stating: “I’m the only one can get the big loads in.”

Opposing bail, Mrs McKay said Greer is suspected of being part of the organised gang behind an importation racket.

“He’s not considered to be any great criminal mastermind, but he would be believed to be easily manipulated,” she told the court.

Greer denied any involvement in importation during questioning.

However, his lawyer also submitted: “He makes the case ultimately that he was acting under duress.”

Refusing bail, Madam Justice McBride held there was a risk of re-offending.