Published Saturday, 11 August 2012
Five charged with drugs offences (© UTV)
The men appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court on Saturday accused of being part of a well organised and sophisticated crime gang involved in the organisation and distribution of drugs in Northern Ireland.
The gang included three men from Carrickfergus - Colin James Simms, who is 32 and from Sunnylands Avenue, William Edmund Gillespie, aged 63 and from Prospect Link, Joseph Morrison, aged 48 and from Thornfield Court, Richard Liles, of no fixed abode, and John Hill, of Whit Lane, Salford.
They are all charged with possession of cannabis with intent to supply, conspiring with one another to supply cannabis, possession of cannabis and the importation of cannabis.
Police said they believed they could connect all five men with the charges.
The prosecution alleged that on Thursday morning the five men received three packages containing 17kgs of cannabis from a vehicle which had made its way north to Carrickfergus after coming off an Irish Ferries ship at Dublin.
A police officer said that when arrested, William Gillespie admitted travelling to Dublin to meet the lorry.
However, he reportedly told police: "Officer I don't take drugs, I don't do drugs. Where is the drugs? I don't understand this."
The officer told the court the alleged gang fitted custom-made black wooden boxes into the vehicle to transport the cannabis north.
The men have been remanded in custody and will appear again in court on 6 September.