Northern Ireland news

Two Chinese nationals allegedly involved in INLA drug running

Two Chinese nationals have been remanded in custody after a police investigation into alleged INLA criminality in Derry uncovered drugs with an estimated street value of £132,000.

A special court sitting on Saturday heard one of the accused, who has been sought by immigration authorities for five years, has “raised concerns around human trafficking”.

Pofen Huang (62) and his nephew Min Zhe Lin (31) of Old Baker's Court, Belfast are charged with possessing and intending to supply cannabis as well as being concerned in supply, on days between October and November this year.

A detective constable told the Dungannon Magistrates Court all charges could be connected.

He explained police have been conducting, “A proactive investigation into drugs supply in the Derry/Londonderry area, linked to proscribed organisation the INLA.”

On the evening of November 24 officers stopped a silver Volkswagen Golf in the Spencer Road area of the city and a search uncovered 9.5 kilos of suspected herbal cannabis inside eight bags, most of which was in a large suitcase with the rest in the rear passenger footwell.

The lone occupant of the car when stopped was a female driver who was arrested and currently remains in custody.

Prior to this, Huang was observed leaving the train station after travelling from Belfast and placing a suitcase and rucksack into the Volkswagen, before getting into the rear.

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

He was later arrested and charged with the offences before the court.

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

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

The search located 12 kilos 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 Huang admitted delivering drugs to the Derry area on two occasions, having been instructed to do so by Lin.

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

He continued, “My client made certain admissions. This will be a complex investigation and it's not unusual for matters such as this to take up to two years from arrest until finally dealt with in crown court. He could reside at the Belfast address with additional conditions.”

It also emerged forged documents relating to Lin were discovered during the house search and enquiries with immigration authorities revealed he has been sought for around five years having, “Successfully evaded detection”.

His 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. I've invited police to contact officers from the human trafficking unit and commence an investigation.”

District Judge Alana McSorley refused bail for Huang and remanded both in custody to appear again by video-link at Derry Magistrates Court on December 22.

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