CHINESE Triad gangs are using the postal system to meet the demand for herbal cannabis in Northern Ireland, a court has heard.
A criminal network based in cities across the UK are sending drugs and laundered money because gang members in Belfast cannot keep up, police claimed.
Detectives investigating the illegal operation have so far seized herbal cannabis with a street value of £1.3m and £800,000 in cash.
Police believe there are two Chinese triad gangs operating in Northern Ireland – Wo Shin Wo and 14K.
Details emerged as a Chinese woman appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court accused of involvement in the racket.
Lan Lan Guo, of Camden Street in the city, faces charges of possessing, transferring, concealing or converting criminal property, and having Class B drugs.
Police searched the 30-year-old’s home on Sunday in connection with alleged money laundering offences.
A special court sitting on Monday was told more than £10,000 in cash, seven mobile phones, notebooks and a small quantity of cannabis was seized.
Guo claimed she had been given the money and phones by others to look after.
Opposing bail, a detective said the search was carried out after police received intelligence about a package being posted. He said the case formed part of an ongoing investigation into a Chinese organised crime gang.
It was claimed that a connected network of triads is involved in producing high quality herbal cannabis at locations throughout the UK.
District Judge Harry McKibbin was told the postal system is being used to move the drugs and large quantities of cash.
Cannabis is being sent from other towns and cities because gang members in Northern Ireland are unable to keep up with the demand, according to police.
Consignments have been sent from London, Manchester, Cardiff and Newport, the court heard.
A defence lawyer said Guo moved to Northern Ireland in 2011 after living in London for a number of years.
He claimed she had been caught up in the alleged operation due to her command of the English language.
Others in the Chinese community go to her for help, the lawyer argued.
But refusing bail, District Judge Harry McKibbin said: “There’s a severe risk if even part of what police tell me is true.
“It’s quite clear the suspicion at this point in time is that this is part of a high level Chinese triad gang.”
Guo was remanded in custody to appear again by video link in four weeks time.