ORGANISED Crime Branch detectives secretly watched as cannabis worth £600,000 was transferred from a lorry to a car.
And following the hand-over in Glengormley, PSNI officers swooped on two vehicles – a HGV lorry and a Volkswagen Passat car – and arrested three men during the planned covert operation.
In the dock of Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Friday were:
* Patrick Austin, 33, of Rectory Park, Lurgan, Co Armagh;
* Mark Cullen, 39, from Castleton Gardens, Belfast;
* and Michael Slevin, 47, of Meadowvale Park, Omagh, Co Tyrone.
The trio were all charged with possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply.
Slevin and Austin were further accused of being concerned in the supply of cannabis.
Cullen also faced a number of minor motoring offences.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard Cullen was in a Volkswagen Passat spotted on the Ballyrobert Road in Newtownabbey on Thursday.
The car met with the lorry driven by Slevin while Austin was his passenger, a detective told the court.
The officers said more than 30 packages of cannabis with a street value of £600,000, were moved into the Volkswagen Passat.
The Passat was then driven to the nearby Corr’s Corner Hotel where it was stopped by plain-clothed police officers.
A short distance away, another team of plain-clothed stopped Slevin and Austin in the lorry on the Ballyrobert Road.
During questioning, Slevin claimed he had given a lift to Austin in Dublin and knew nothing about any boxes being put in his vehicle.
It was confirmed that he was not involved in any unloading of the packages.
When questioned about his position in the alleged operation, he said he “wasn’t even on the ladder”, the court heard.
Slevin was granted bail to appear again on September 14after police raised no objections.
He was ordered to put up a £1,000 cash surety, told to surrender his passport and subjected to a curfew and electronic monitoring.
Cullen did not make a bail application and was remanded in custody to appear again by video link in four weeks’ time.
Austin was also remanded in custody.