International drugs trafficking probe leads police to Mullaghbawn

April 6, 2015

Three men appeared in court on Saturday charged in connection with an international drugs trafficking operation linked to the seizure of cannabis plants in Mullaghbawn.

Forty-year-old Vietnamese man, Tien Duc, was arrested in the police swoop on Wednesday night and appeared before Newry Magistrates’ Court on Saturday charged in connection with the find.

The two other men charged in relation to the same investigation appeared at a special court in Newtownards on Saturday. Zhenchao Chen, 34,and Baosen Zhao (53), were charged with importing cannabis and conspiracy to supply it. Mr Chen was further charged with possessing drugs and cultivating cannabis at a property at Newry Road, Mullaghbawn between January and April 2015. Both men were remanded into custody to appear in court again later this month.

Police say the drugs uncovered near Mullaghbawn are thought to be worth around £250,000.  A sum of cash was also seized.

The find made was part of a probe into an international drug smuggling ring, which has led to arrests and drug seizures in Italy, Belfast and Newry, police have said.

The investigation is being led by the PSNI, in partnership with the National Crime Agency and Italian Carabinieri police and is thought to be linked to the supply of ‘skunk’ cannabis in Northern Ireland.

Police said the ‘skunk’ variety of cannabis could be “particularly dangerous” because it could significantly increase a user’s likelihood of experiencing a psychotic episode.