SIX people, including one from Ballymnoey, have been charged in connection with a suspected money laundering and drug trafficking network in the Coleraine area.
The operation by the PSNI’s Organised Crime Squad saw eight searches being carried out in Ballymoney, Coleraine and England last Thursday.
A boat, two jet skis and two motorcycles were seized in relation to the investigation, which has been on-going for some seven months.
The investigation is focusing on the supply of drugs in the Coleraine, Portrush and Portstewart areas.
Of the six charged, two of the accused are from Kent in England.
After two days of questioning by PSNI officers, the pair, a male and a female, appeared before North Antrim Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
Jade Wooden (24) is charged with transferring criminal property and conspiring to supply a class ‘A’ drug.
Her boyfriend, Andrew Rosenberg (27), also from Kent, faces charges of transferring criminal property and conspiring to supply Class ‘A’ drugs.
The charges relate to searches by Kent Police last week as a result of the Northern Ireland investigation.
Half a kilo of suspected cocaine, with a street value of £25,000, was found in Wooden’s home along with £100,000 in cash. The money was found in a safe at Wooden’s parent’s home, however during interview, Rosenberg admitted that the money belonged to him.
Rosenberg runs a web-based business, which supplies Lidocaine, a chemical which has similar side effects to cocaine, but is used by various groups including pharmaceutical companies.
A barrister acting on behalf of the couple told the court that he believed Rosenberg’s only link to Northern Ireland was a ‘package’, which police believed to be money, which had been sent to Rosenberg from a co-accused, Mark McMullan, from Ballymoney.
He added that the suspected cocaine found at Wooden’s address had not been properly analysed by forensic officers.
A bail application was made for each of the defendants.
A PSNI officer told the court that police believed that as a result of the investigation thousands of pounds worth of drugs had been taken of the streets of the North West.
District Judge Peter McGill refused bail given the quantity of suspected cocaine that was seized and the money involved.
However, he urged police to fast track the forensic analysis and invited the defence to make another bail application in light of the forensic results.
Over the weekend, two local men, were also charged in connection with the investigation.
Mark McMullan (39) of Millfields in Ballymoney, appeared before a special court in Ballymena on Saturday morning on seven charges.
The charges are supplying a Class ‘A’ drug, three counts of converting criminal property, making a false tax return, transferring criminal property and disclosing false information to a mortgage company.
Ryan Samuel Glass (36) of Hawthorne Place in Coleraine, appeared before a special sitting of Coleraine Court on Saturday. He is charged with supplying a class ‘A’ drug. Both men were remanded in custody.
Two other women arrested in connection with the investigation have been released.
A 33-year-old woman from Coleraine was charged with supplying a Class ‘A’ drug, she is expected to appear before North Antrim Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, May 11.
Another woman, a 32-year-old from Ballymoney, has been released pending a report to the PPS for alleged money laundering.