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finally caught Dealer on run for over a decade arrested in the UK after police seized £1.6 million of cocaine

Arrest came as €1.6m of cocaine seized in Belfast port

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Huge 20kg haul stashed in a van.

Huge 20kg haul stashed in a van.

Huge 20kg haul stashed in a van.

A Limerick drug dealer on the run for over a decade has been arrested in the UK after police seized £1.6 million of cocaine in Belfast this week.

Anthony Terry had been at large after escaping from an Irish prison in 2006 just months after he got a four-year sentence for being in possession of 10kg of cannabis.

But his 14 years on the run came to an end this week after his arrest by the UK's National Crime Agency officers in Wolverhampton last Monday.

A van stopped at Belfast Port last week after arriving from Birkenhead, England, by ferry was found to have 20kg of cocaine.

It is one of the largest such seizures ever made in Northern Ireland.

Laethian McCalla (39) of Staffordshire, alleged to be the driver, was arrested and later charged after being questioned by NCA officers.

Anthony Terry (46), of Crawford Road, Wolverhampton, has also been charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and with possessing an improperly obtained ID document.

The Limerick man was last seen legging it from the Regional Hospital in the city in September 2006 where he had been brought by the prison service after complaining of chest pains.

In July that year he had been sentenced to serve four years behind bars after he admitted to possessing 10kg of cannabis worth €40,000 for sale or supply.

Debt

He told gardaí he had a debt of €6,000 which he borrowed to buy a van and this had been sold on to a drug dealer by his original lender.

Because of delays in making repayments the taxi driver's debt spiralled to €15,000, it was heard in court.

The drug dealer reportedly threatened to rape Terry's wife and 13-year-old daughter if he did not come up with the money - but offered to go easy on him if he did a drop for them. Evidence was heard of how Terry had been caught red-handed as a garda surveillance team watched a van on the outskirts of the city on July 20, 2005.

A taxi pulled up and when gardaí approached Terry they asked him what was in bags found in the boot.

He said they were tools he had been asked to deliver there. Gardaí found the drugs in black bin liners.

But just months after being sentenced he had escaped and remained at large until this week.

This week the NCA revealed the 20kg haul of cocaine was discovered hidden inside an empty fuel tank being transported in a van.

Officers used special equipment to recover the drugs, in an operation which took several hours and also involved Belfast Harbour Police, Border Force and the PSNI.

Criminal

NCA branch commander Adam Warnock said: "This was a significant seizure of cocaine, one of the biggest to be made by law enforcement in Northern Ireland in recent years.

"The loss of the profit that would have been made from it will be felt by the criminal groups involved in drug supply in the province.

"Those groups are also involved in exploitation and violence in our communities, so taking away these drugs will prevent them from reinvesting in further criminal activity.

"Working with our partners across law enforcement we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle organised crime networks and protect the public."

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