Published Tuesday, 09 April 2013
The men were arrested on Sunday. (© UTV)
A detective told Belfast Magistrates' Court that five boxes full of drugs were seized by police after they were transferred from the lorry into a waiting car at a south Belfast retail park.
Three men, including the lorry driver, were arrested and charged during the operation in the city and at a location in Banbridge, Co Down on Sunday.
All three men - Stephen Martin Hale, 30 and from Summerhill in Banbridge; Samuel John White, 32 and from Crew Road in Maghera; and David McCaughan, 57 and from Ghent Place, Belfast - are accused of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.
White and McCaughan both face further counts of possessing herbal cannabis with intent to supply. White is also accused of supplying Class B drugs, while Hale has been charged with having criminal property.
A detective constable told the court that he could connect all three suspects to the alleged offences.
Neither Hale nor McCaughan sought bail. They were both remanded in custody to appear again in four weeks time.
There are other members that may or may not ever be identified, but there are ongoing inquiries to try and identify them.
Opposing White's application to be released, the officer said that the drugs seizure resulted from proactive investigation run by the PSNI's Organised Crime Branch over a number of months.
He disclosed that a Scania lorry driven by White arrived in the Boucher Road area of Belfast after travelling on a ferry from Cairnryan.
Boxes were unloaded and packed into a waiting Volkswagen Passat which was then stopped and searched. Twenty kilos of suspected herbal cannabis were recovered.
Forensic tests of the haul are ongoing, while telephones seized as part of the operation are also being analysed.
White was detained at a nearby Tesco distribution centre where he was making another, legitimate, delivery.
The detective claimed an organised crime group had suffered a substantial loss of drugs due to the seizure and added that White may come under pressure to try to help recoup these losses.
White's solicitor described his client as an ordinary family man who works for a construction firm and occasionally carries out other delivery jobs in England.
"He says he was contacted by another individual, who may be a co-accused, asking him to pick up boxes from another person in England," the lawyer said.
It was claimed that White believed the packages could have contained tobacco.
Refusing bail, District Judge Fiona Bagnall cited the risk of possible re-offending and remanded White in custody to appear again via video-link on 7 May.
© UTV News