Police thwarted an alleged heroin supplier’s attempt to swallow 40 wraps of drugs during an operation in Belfast, the High Court heard on Friday.
Prosecutors claimed Aidas Tumenas tried to dispose of the haul when he was detained as part of a wider investigation into illegal trading on the city’s streets.
It was also revealed that a fellow Lithuanian national held along with him took his own life last month while on remand in Maghaberry Prison.
Details emerged as Tumenas, with an address at Waterside in Lisburn, was refused bail.
The 26-year-old faces charges of possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply and conspiracy to supply.
He was allegedly spotted with his co-accused making a transaction near the Beersbridge Road in east Belfast on January 4, the court heard.
Prosecution counsel Kate McKay claimed that as officers moved in Tumenas transferred items from his pocket to his mouth.
“Police prevented him from swallowing and he began to struggle with them before spitting out approximately 40 wraps of (suspected) heroin,” she said.
After he was arrested and cautioned Tumenas replied: “I don’t sell the drugs.”
According to Mrs McKay, however, police investigating heroin dealing in the greater Belfast area have been aware of him since last September.
His alleged accomplice was also taken into custody on charges of conspiracy and being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.
“Tragically he committed suicide in Maghaberry Prison,” the prosecutor disclosed.
She said he hanged himself on February 11, dying in hospital several days later.
Opposing Tumenas’ bail application, Mrs McKay told the court police believe he has a “middle ranking” role supplying street dealers.
She added that forensic tests have confirmed 35 of the wraps contained heroin, with the other five made up of speed-type substances.
A defence barrister argued that as a foreign national Tumenas would struggle more in custody, particularly after his co-accused’s suicide.
Richard McConkey said: “His friend very tragically took his own life and he’s finding it very difficult.”
Despite taking that bereavement into account, Mr Justice Deeny noted that two other heroin dealing suspects have fled since being released.
Identifying a further risk of re-offending, the judge ruled: “My duty is to refuse bail.”