Man in court after major cocaine haul uncovered in Stewartstown

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A twenty-four year old man has been remanded in custody after police recovered up to an estimated £60,000 of suspected cocaine from his work van.

Andros Soteriou, of Park View, Dungannon is accused of possessing cocaine and cannabis with intent to unlawfully supply.

A detective constable told Dungannon Magistrates Court he believed he could connect the accused to both charges.

Objecting to bail the detective explained Soteriou was stopped whilst driving a Citroen Berlingo on 12 November in Stewartstown and a search was carried out of the vehicle.

A compartment was located behind the dashboard which contained a number of plastic bags of white powder which police believe is cocaine, and had a combined weight of around one kilogram.

A further package containing herbal cannabis was recovered along with what police believe are quantities of anabolic steroids and Viagra.

There was also a plastic container of powder which is believed to be a mixing agent for the cocaine.

Soteriou was interviewed and provided no comment replies to all questions put to him. The court heard he is currently subject to a two year suspended sentence for similar matters which was handed down in 2014.

The detective said, “This is a large haul which is estimated to be in the region of £40,000 to £60,000 in value. Police believe the accused is part of a broader operation and this incident may not have been the first time he has used his works van for drug dealing. We believe he is not only involved in the transportation of drugs but also with supply, and he will seek to recoup loss through this seizure by reoffending.”

Under defence cross-examination the detective agreed the forensics results could take between three and four months.

The defence stated, “The gravity of the allegations is accepted as is the relevant record. However I submit bail could be granted to permit my client to return to his job as an electrician. He is eager to work and fulfil existing contracts.”

Judge Meehan commented, “There are reasonable grounds to suspect the defendant has been dealing in drugs and to a high level in the region of up to £60,000. There is strong prosecution case. I take on board the three to four months for forensics, but that must be balanced against the fact the defendant gave no comment interviews, requiring forensic examinations to go the whole way.”

Refusing bail, he concluded, “It is reasonable to suspect the defendant has been enmeshed in dark drug dealing and may have lost up to £60,000. There are people who have no concern of the seizure and won’t sit back for a year to see how things turn out. There will be pressure to go out and get the funds. I also have to consider the cost to public, damage of individuals and destruction of lives. Such dealers have no care whatsoever as to the human cost involved.”

Judge Meehan advised Soteriou could exercise his right to seek High Court bail but in the meantime remanded Sit in custody to appear by video-link next month.