Ireland's largest cannabis seizure linked to European drug gang

Around £1.3m worth of drugs were found concealed inside an industrial sized fuel tank on a shipping pallet. Credit: Press Eye

Ireland’s largest ever herbal cannabis seizure was allegedly smuggled in from Spain, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors revealed details of the suspected route of the £1.3m delivery across Europe.

The haulier accused of being the “organiser” of the operation applied for bail.

Police believe 42-year-old James McAleese from Hill Street in Dundalk hired the trailer used to transport the drugs.

The Co Louth man is accused of fraudulently importing cannabis,possessing the Class B drug with intent to supply and being concerned in its supply.

Officers found the 66 kilos packed inside a fuel container at a property on Ballynaris Lane, Dromore in Co Down on 30 March.

According to the Crown case Niall Mallon, 38, who lives at the address, and 32-year-old Kevin McPolin, from Edenderry Park in Banbridge, brought the drugs from Dublin into Northern Ireland.

They both face similar importation and possession charges.

Prosecution counsel Kate McKay claimed telephone evidence links McAleese to hiring the trailer for the drug-smuggling plot.

"It involved moving a container from Barcelona to Dublin and then to Northern Ireland," said Ms McKay.

The court was told Mallon, who has already been granted bail, allegedly acted as a courier.

Defence barrister Michael Ward disputed the allegations, describing the police case against his client as "tenuous".

He argued: "There's no evidence to link him to the address where the drugs were found."

He added that a £5,000 cash surety was available.

Adjourning the application, Mr Justice Colton requested more information about the guarantee being offered before making a decision.