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Ballymena

Man remanded in custody at Ballymena Court on Saturday in connection with seizure of ‘£100,000’ worth of drugs

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A MAN who police allege is “an integral part of an organised crime gang” following the seizure of drugs with an estimated street value of over £100,000, was remanded in custody at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Saturday.

William Leonard Rice (51), of Browndod Road near Larne, faces twelve charges including possession of cocaine, MDMA and cannabis with intent to supply.

The charges relate to a drugs seizure on Thursday.

Opposing bail a police officer said various pieces of equipment were found including a hydraulic press along with nine and a half kilos of MDMA, one kilo of cocaine; and a ‘cannabis factory’ which was either being set up for use or had just been finished.

£4,000 in cash was also seized.

The officer said the defendant told police he had been “acting under duress” that his property should be used.

The detective said Rice said he had attempted to grow cannabis three years ago for his own use and that the money belonged to a family member.

The officer said the amount of drugs found would have caused harm in the community.

A defence lawyer said the defendant had no previous drugs convictions.

However, he said through the course of a “drug debt” the defendant “became vulnerable to persons who were sinister elements”.

District Judge Peter King said the allegations were “startling” and it was claimed that Rice was a “mixer and a presser” for a drugs gang.

Given the amount of drugs involved the judge refused bail.

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