Three drugs-related deaths have occurred in the Mid Ulster area in recent months, the High Court heard today.
Prosecutors revealed the figure as bail was refused to a man allegedly linked to recoveries of cocaine and cannabis with a combined potential street value of up to £2 million.
Paul Currie was arrested by police investigating seizures in counties Tyrone and Derry last month. The 53-year-old, of Limekiln Lane in Cookstown, faces counts of conspiracy to possess Class A and B drugs, and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
Two other men have also been charged as part of the probe.
Officers recovered 40kg of cannabis resin, 1kg of cocaine and 25kg of a mixing agent on November 12.
They seized the drugs after monitoring a lorry and a car pull into a lay-by between Dungannon and Ballygawley.
Consignments were allegedly taken out of the lorry which had arrived in Northern Ireland from Scotland.
Paul Currie’s two co-accused were arrested at the scene. He was then detained in the Cookstown area.
A previous court was told more drugs and cash were seized in follow-up searches.
In Desertmartin, 11kg of cannabis resin and 3kg of herbal cannabis were found at a house. Searches at a number of properties in Cookstown led to £82,000 in cash also being recovered.
Although the cocaine’s street value was put at around £60,000, it was estimated that cutting it with mixing agent would give it a potential value of £1.5m.
The cannabis seized was believed to be worth more than £500,000 in total, according to police.
Opposing Paul Currie’s bail application, prosecution counsel claimed he was a “pivot” in a gang allegedly linked to the drugs. He also raised concerns about the general trade in illegal substances in the area, pointing to a number of deaths in recent times.
There is no suggestion of any link between Paul Currie and those incidents.
A defence barrister insisted the current case against him appeared to be based on mobile phone traffic, with no physical connection to the drugs.
He argued that evidence will have to be produced to back claims that his client was the “main man”.
Denying bail, however, Mr Justice Treacy ruled there was a risk of re-offending and involvement in a “pernicious” trade.
The judge added: “The prosecution have said what police have told them, about the serious problem there is in the Mid Ulster area with the supply of drugs.
“I’m told there’s been three drug-related deaths in the relevantly recent past.”