Cleaning boss 'in cocaine dealing plot'

Cleaning boss 'in cocaine dealing plot'

A cleaning services boss was allegedly part of a sophisticated cocaine dealing operation disrupted in Belfast, the High Court has heard.

Barry Thompson, 30, was arrested as part of a police operation involving searches at two properties in the city last week.

Suspected drug-related equipment and the parts for a cocaine press were seized at a co-accused's address in Island Street.

Cash, numerous flat-screen televisions and a CCTV system in operation at the premises were all recovered.

Thompson, of Glendarragh Mews, Belfast, was arrested after arriving at the property in his BMW car on 13 February.

Fiona O'Kane, prosecuting, said a hydraulic jack and a kilo of benzocaine, a legitimate pharmaceutical substance allegedly used to dilute cocaine, were found in the car.

Police believe the suspects were in the final stages of preparing to produce drugs with a street value of up to £60,000, she said.

Thompson denies conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, possessing and concealing criminal property, and encouraging or assisting an offence by providing transport and equipment.

Opposing his bail application, Mrs O'Kane said: "This applicant and the co-accused, on the police case, are involved in a sophisticated organisation involved in dealing in drugs, conspiracy to deal in drugs and have access to multiple premises."

It was stressed, however, that Thompson is not accused of having any drugs.

His lawyer, Seamus Leonard, said that the jack found in his car was a legitimate piece of equipment bought on ebay.

The benzocaine, sold legally on the internet, was to be used for plant food, according to the defence.

Mr Leonard argued that his client was not associated with anything seized from the Island Street property during an apparent surveillance operation.

He said Thompson runs a business called Diamond Cleaning Services specialising in restaurant work across Northern Ireland.

Some of the cash taken from him was payments for jobs he had carried out just before his arrest, the court heard. Bail was refused, however, due to the risk of any further offences.

Mr Justice Treacy said: "There is a prima facie case against the applicant in respect of what appears to be a very sophisticated drug dealing operation."


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