Organised crime gang members flee Northern Ireland

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Members of an organised crime gang dealing heroin in Belfast have fled across Europe, a court heard on Monday.

As a Lithuanian man appeared in the dock accused of dealing near the city’s gasworks area, police claimed other suspects left Northern Ireland once they were granted bail.

Erikas Zizmantis, 26, faces two counts of supplying Class A drugs and a further charge of being concerned in the supply of heroin.

The alleged offences were committed between November 30, 2017 and May 12 this year.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court was told he has made full admissions to all of the charges.

Opposing his release, a detective said police have been investigating an organised crime gang involved in supplying heroin in Belfast since 2015.

As part of that probe Zizmantis was allegedly observed carrying out transactions with members of the public at the Lagan towpath on December 3 last year.

Wraps of heroin were seized from people stopped after encounters with him, it was claimed.

Zizmantis, with an address at Shore Road in the city, was arrested on Saturday.

He initially denied involvement before admitting to being a member of the gang, the court heard.

The detective added: “There are other members of this organised crime gang with connections to various European countries who have fled the jurisdiction after being arrested here and granted bail.

A defence lawyer argued that Zizmantis has been candid about his role and should be released from custody.

But denying his application, District Judge Nigel Broderick held there were risks he could re-offend or fail to turn up for trial.