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Drugs haul Former prison officer charged in connection with suspected cocaine factory bust

Pair held over seizure of £500k drugs haul and firearm at 'factory'

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Ashley McClean

Ashley McClean

Ex-Prison Officer Ashley McClean

Ex-Prison Officer Ashley McClean

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Ashley McClean

A man charged in connection with a suspected cocaine factory in Co Tyrone is a former prison officer.

Ashley McLean of Deverney Park, Omagh appeared this week at Dungannon Magistrates' Court following the seizure of cocaine with an estimated street value of £500,000.

The 35-year-old is pictured here for the first time along with his co-accused Corey Leonard, who is 25-years-old and from Arvalee Road, Omagh.

They also face firearms charges.

It's understood McLean is a former prison officer and had worked in Scotland.

The pair appeared in court by videolink on Wednesday from Omagh PSNI station where they have been held since the drugs were seized.

McClean and Leonard were both charged with being concerned in the supply, possession and production of the Class A drug cocaine.

They also face charges of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, namely a firearm and a shotgun cartridge, in suspicious circumstances, handling stolen goods, namely a motor vehicle and the fraudulent use of a vehicle registration mark.

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Corey Leonard

Corey Leonard

Corey Leonard

McClean faces a further charge of permitting the production of cocaine at the residence on Rahoney Road, Fintona.

A police officer said he believed he could connect the defendants to the charges.

Defence solicitor Michael Fahy indicated to the court he was not making a bail application at this stage but may do so in the near future.

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He stated that his clients had been interviewed over two days and asked the police witness how long it would be before forensic examinations are completed.

The PSNI officer suggested it would be "a number of weeks or months".

District Judge Michael Ranaghan said, "I think months is more realistic".

The court was also told that neither defendant has a record of relevance .

Mr Fahy suggested he will make an application for bail 'imminently'. He also stated for that purpose potential sureties would be identified.

Judge Ranagahn remanded McClean and Leonard in custody.

They will appear before Omagh Magistrates Court by videolink on June 8.

Police had announced on Monday night that a suspected "drugs factory" was discovered at a residence on Rahoney Road, Fintona.

Detective Inspector Shaw said following the seizure: "The arrests and seizure were the result of searches carried out today in the Fintona area.

"Drugs cause significant harm. Not only do they pose a risk to the lives of people who take them but also to their families who deal with the distressing fall out associated with drugs, including debt and intimidation.

"People who bring these drugs into our communities do not care about this pain and misery, instead they only care about the significant profits they can make.

"We will continue to disrupt those involved in drugs related criminality and remove drugs and other harmful substances from our communities.

"I want to appeal to anyone with information about the supply of illegal drugs to get in touch with us on 101."

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