A tour guide accused of having £180,000 worth of cannabis was put under pressure by “sinister forces”, the High Court heard on Tuesday.
Alan Tan was caught last month at a train station in Ballymena transporting three kilos of the drugs, prosecutors said.
Police then allegedly recovered a further six kilos at a flat the 39-year-old was renting in east Belfast.
It was claimed that he is part of a wider, sophisticated narcotics operation.
Tan, a Chinese national of Glebetown Drive in Downpatrick, Co Down, was refused bail on charges of possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply and having a false passport.
He was detained as he arrived at the train station on January 28.
Crown lawyer David McClean said: “His account was that he has come to Ballymena because somebody had given him £100 to deliver an item.”
The court heard Tan now works as a part-time guide for Chinese tourists.
He also told police another man had stopped him in the street and asked him to look after some stuff, warning if he didn’t he would be in “big trouble”.
“Bags were brought round to his house, these were bags of herbal cannabis,” the prosecutor added.
“He claimed that he touched the bags out of curiosity.”
Defence counsel Conor O’Kane argued that Tan had acted under duress.
He said his client had previously worked as a restaurant waiter until immigration authorities clamped down on further employment due to an expired visa.
Mr O’Kane added: “He was approached by more sinister forces to transport items to Ballymena and to keep other items in his property.”
Denying bail, however, Mr Justice Colton cited the risks of re-offending and flight.
The judge said: “Given the volume of drugs involved and the way they were packaged, it seems whatever the true reason for having them he was trusted by those supplying the drugs.”