Second-hand clothes firm used as front for drug distribution network, court told

Man (31) refused bail after being charged with heroin and ecstasy offences at warehouse in Ringaskiddy port

Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

Criminals were using a second-hand clothing collection company as a front for a major drug distribution network, gardaí alleged on Wednesday when objecting to bail for a man arrested after gardaí seized €190,000 worth of drugs in Co Cork.

Det Garda Eoin O’Toole of Cork City Divisional Drugs Unit said gardaí believe the second-hand clothes collection company operated by Lithuanian, Vytautas Balcytis was a front for a major drug distribution operation in Ireland.

Det Garda O’Toole made the comment when objecting to bail for Mr Balcytis (31) after he charged him with four new offences relating to the seizure of over €90,000 worth of drugs from among a total haul of €190,000 in Ringaskiddy.

On Sunday, Mr Balcytis was remanded in custody with consent to bail after he was charged with possession and possession for sale or supply of €17,000 worth of cocaine at Ring Port, Loughbeg, Ringaskiddy, Co Cork on May 21st.

On Wednesday at Cork District Court, Mr Balcytis was charged with possession and possession for sale or supply of €60,000 worth of heroin and possession and possession for sale or supply of €14,000 worth of ecstasy on the same occasion.

Det Garda O’Toole gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution and told the court that Mr Balcytis of Ferndale, Navan, Co Meath made no reply to any of the four new charges when they were put to him after caution.

He said gardaí were objecting to bail because of the seriousness of the six charges now against Mr Balcytis, their belief he was a flight risk and would not stand trial and their belief he would commit further offences if granted bail.

He said gardaí were basing their fear that Mr Balcytis would abscond on their belief they had a strong case against him given the evidence they had to link him to the charges and he gave an outline of the alleged facts in the case.

He said gardaí had mounted a surveillance operation on a warehouse in Ringaskiddy and they would allege that they saw Mr Balcytis in a motor van from which they later recovered a significant quantity of drugs.

Gardaí would allege that they also found the key to this motor van in a car being driven by Mr Balcytis and that in addition to the drugs with which he was charged, they also found €100,000 of fake Xanax in the motor van.

He said gardaí would allege Mr Balcytis was effectively caught red-handed at the scene and he also told the court that he believed further serious charges would also be brought against Mr Balcytis in relation to the seizure.

Defence solicitor, Eddie Burke said little had changed for his client from Sunday when he was remanded in custody with consent to bail on the two cocaine charges other than that he was now charged with a total six offences.

However, the four new charges all arose from the same incident as the earlier two charges when a different judge remanded Mr Balcytis in custody with consent to bail and he accused gardaí of now engaging in “judge shopping”.

Mr Burke submitted to Judge Olann Kelleher that gardaí were “changing the goalposts” in they had put all the facts before his colleague on Sunday and Mr Balcytis had obtained bail but now they had brought new charges.

Judge Kellehersaid that he accepted Mr Balcytis had got bail from another judge but what happened in another court was not of concern to him and he had to consider the charges and submissions that were made before him.

Judge Kelleher said in all the circumstances he was refusing Mr Balcytis bail on the four new charges and he remanded him in custody to appear on June 3rd while he approved a surety and remanded him on bail on the earlier charges.