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Court hears one-eyed alleged boss of 'elaborate' drugs ring swam the Liffey to avoid €2m drugs bust

Six men were arrested during the operation, and on Friday five appeared in court

Tom Tuite

AN ALLEGED "principal" of an “elaborate” drug trafficking and money laundering operation swam the River Liffey to evade arrest for a €2m drug seizure, a court heard.

Officers from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau searched a house and stopped vans in Palmerstown, Dublin 20, on June 22.

Six men were arrested during the operation, and on Friday five appeared in court.

Today gardai brought the sixth man, Carl Powell, before Judge Treasa Kelly at Dublin District Court.

Mr Powell, 34, with an address at Brocklebank Lane, Liverpool, England, was refused bail.

He is charged with possessing cannabis for sale or supply at a house on Mill Lane, Palmerstown and having heroin, cannabis, and cocaine at an apartment in Dublin 2.

Judge Kelly heard he made no reply to the charges.

Detective Garda Gavin Curran objected to bail due to the seriousness of the case.

He maintained Mr Powell was a "principal part" of an organised crime group involved in drug distribution and money laundering.

He told the bail hearing gardai set up a surveillance operation and allegedly saw him carrying a black Under Armour sports bag into a house at Mill Lane.

Two vans that left the property were stopped and searched, resulting in the recovery of 69 kilos of cannabis worth more than €1.3m.

On the same date, gardai searched the house at about 6 pm and seized 34 kilos of cannabis, worth €680,000.

The court heard a man tried to escape, and he entered and swam across the Liffey. He discarded the sports bag, which gardai say they have recovered.

Furthermore, they searched an apartment in Dublin 2. It was allegedly used for an "elaborate money laundering and trafficking operation".

Detective Garda Curran said €140,000 worth of cocaine, heroin valued at €180,000 and two kilos of cannabis were recovered, along with vacuum-packed bags of cash totalling €864,000.

A "tick list", ledger, weighing scales and a counterfeit money detection machine were discovered there, the court heard.

Detective Garda Curran alleged that a passport photo of the accused, a Ryanair ticket and a dentist’s receipt from Spain were also found.

Mr Powell was arrested at a city centre hotel just after 1 pm the following day. He had met up with his partner.

Detective Curran said the accused, who has one eye, had a "distinctive appearance".

At the time of arrest, he wore slippers and a woman's coat, and “found in his possession was a wet passport”.

The officer said the accused had "multiple scratches" believed to have been caused by branches and undergrowth along the Liffey.

The detective also told the court that the accused had lived in Spain for seven or eight years. He believed Mr Powell was a flight risk with access to a "transnational network".

Cross-examined by defence counsel Keith Spencer, instructed by solicitor Niall O'Connor, the detective agreed there was no forensic evidence linking the accused to the city-centre apartment or the alleged storehouse in Palmerstown.

Pleading for bail, counsel said his client had been in Ireland since December and had the presumption of innocence.

He was supported in court by his partner and helped care for her children.

However, Judge Kelly denied him bail and remanded him in custody to appear at Cloverhill District Court on Friday. She noted gardai intended to object to legal aid after the defence submitted the accused had limited means.

His co-defendants faced bail hearings on Friday and will appear again at Cloverhill District Court next week.

Gary Graham, 47, from Patrick Heaney Crescent, D.1, Barry Keane, 30, of Coolamber Road, Rathcoole, Dublin, and Michael Murphy, 32, of Woodstown Meadow, Knocklyon, Dublin, were charged with possessing cannabis for sale or supply at a house on Mill Lane in Palmerstown.

Industrial cleaner and father of one Gary Graham was refused bail. The court heard claims that he remained at the house when gardai carried out the search and found several kilos of cannabis "stacked against a hedge".

Detective Garda Ciaran Cummins alleged the house was a "hub" for organised crime.

Gary Graham “adamantly denied involvement in the matter” and did not attempt to flee.

Gardai consented to bail with a range of conditions for the other four co-defendants before the court on Friday.

Michael Campbell, 31, from New Priory, Donaghmede, Dublin, was granted a €2,000 bond but required a €10,000 independent surety approved before he could be released. He is accused of having cannabis worth €600,000 at the M50.

Michael Murphy and Barry Keane have €5,000 bail bonds and need €5,000 independent sureties.

Gary Graham’s cousin, Christopher Graham, 41, from Matt Talbot Court, Dublin 1, was charged with possessing €760,000 worth of cannabis for supply in a van in Palmerstown.

They made no reply when charged.

Directions from the DPP need to be obtained.

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