Donegal drug accused a ‘senior member of crime group’

Scales of Justice
Scales of Justice

An alleged senior member of an organised crime gang distributing large amounts of drugs in Northern Ireland must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled on Thursday.

Co Donegal man Benjamin Quinn, 27, was refused bail amid claims he controlled and directed couriers involved in the illicit trade.

He faces charges linked to the seizure of £720,000 worth of cocaine and cannabis valued at £58,000.

The drugs were discovered in a car stopped in the Duncrue area of Belfast in February 2017.

Prosecutors said it was the fifth of six interventions made as part of an ongoing investigation into the gang’s activities.

Quinn, of Rossgier in Lifford, was arrested with a second man last month and charged with conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs.

Crown lawyer Robin Steer claimed a forensic examination of telephone evidence connects Quinn to contact between suspects on behalf of the “principal” member of the gang.

“Police say this applicant is a senior member of an organised crime group distributing a large quantity of cocaine and cannabis in Northern Ireland,” Mr Steer said.

“He’s involved in the running of couriers.”

Defence counsel stressed Quinn only faces charges connected to one specific drugs seizure.

He mounted a renewed bid to be released from custody based on the co-accused who was detained with him having since been granted bail.

That development, coupled with potential delays in the case, amounts to a change of circumstances, it was contended.

But Mr Justice Colton held there were no reasons to overturn previous refusals.

Denying bail once more, the judge pointed out: “The background here is that it’s alleged this man is intimately involved in the significant supply of drugs.”