Drugs boss convicted over running of €145,000 heroin bagging operation
A LIMERICK man who was seen by gardaí running from a makeshift drugs factory has been convicted for possessing nearly €150,000 worth of heroin.
John McCarthy (41), from Cliona Park, Moyross, was convicted by a jury at Limerick Circuit Court on two counts of having the drugs for sale or supply.
McCarthy was seen by gardaí running from a makeshift drugs factory in a disused building on the Clare-Limerick border. He said he had been attending to horses in a field when they arrived at the area on October 15th, 2010.
The court heard McCarthy was the owner of the drugs and used two younger men as “pawns”, “runners” and “penny boys”, to “divide and break down the heroin for distribution” in Limerick.
He faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison for possessing drugs worth more than €13,000, when he is sentenced on June 15th.
Gardaí seized the drugs after uncovering the operation at Castlepark Estate, Ballygrennan, Co Clare. During the raid a digital weighing scales, a quantity of heroin, plastic bags, parcels wrapped in brown tape, and a shovel were found.
Adam Llewelyn (19), of Craeval Park, Moyross, and James O’Keefe (21), Ballynanty, Limerick, were jailed for three years each in January for possession of the drugs.
Garda Barry O’Brien of the armed regional support unit said he had observed three males at the scene, and that he was in “no doubt” McCarthy was one of them. Det Garda Viv Downey said he too had recognised McCarthy at the scene.
In court, gardaí were accused of lying to cover up a conspiracy against McCarthy. Defence counsel Brian McCartney said gardaí had only managed to provide a scant description of the man they identified as John McCarthy.
Mr McCartney said DNA evidence linking his client to his mobile phone did not prove that the phone was found at the scene, as alleged by the prosecution.
After hearing a “most strenuous objection to bail” by the State, Judge Moran refused an application by the defence to allow McCarthy bail until his sentencing hearing on June 15th.
Det Sgt Alan Cullen, head of the Limerick Divisional Drugs Unit told the judge: “I believe at this stage, given his [McCarthy’s] status, there is a very strong probability he will not remain in this jurisdiction.”