Londonderry: Two men in court over drugs seizures linked to INLA

The BBC Reports

Two men have appeared in court following police searches conducted as part of an investigation into criminality linked to a paramilitary organisation in Londonderry.

Earlier this week, police seized about £132,000 worth of herbal cannabis during searches in Derry and Belfast.

They are investigating the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

Pofen Huang, 62, and his 31-year-old nephew Min Zhe Lin are charged with a number of drugs offences.

The Chinese nationals, both of Old Baker’s Court in Belfast, appeared at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.

The court heard that on Thursday evening police officers stopped a silver Volkswagen Golf in the Spencer Road area of Derry and a search uncovered 9.5kg of suspected herbal cannabis inside eight bags.

Prior to this, Mr Huang was allegedly observed exiting the train station after travelling from Belfast and placing a suitcase and rucksack into the Volkswagen, before getting into the back of the vehicle.

The car left the station and stopped in the Duke Street area where Mr Huang got out, carrying the rucksack.

He was later arrested.

Officers attended his home to carry out a search, but co-accused Min Zhe Lin was inside and refused to open the door, the court heard.

Entry was forced and Mr Lin attempted to evade police by jumping out a window.

About 12kg of suspected herbal cannabis was found in a bedroom and behind kickboards in the kitchen.

The estimated street value of the combined seized drugs is £132,000.

During interview Mr Huang admitted delivering drugs to the Derry area on two occasions, having been instructed to do so by Lin, police said.

On arrival, he would receive further instructions, including vehicle details, to which he would bring the drugs, returning to Belfast immediately afterwards.

A defence solicitor for Mr Huang said he was staying with his nephew after coming from New Zealand last month and was due to remain until March 2023.

Opposing bail the detective pointed to a risk of flight however the defence lawyer for Mr Huang said this was “speculation, with no supporting evidence”.

Mr Lin’s defence solicitor did not apply for bail but told the court: “My client raised issues around human trafficking and there are definite indicators of that.”

Both men will appear in court again next month.

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