Three charged over £600,000 Cookstown Cocaine factory

Three men have appeared in court in connection with the discovery of a drugs factory which Police believe had the potential to generate cocaine with a street value of £600,000.

One of the accused is also alleged linked to the encrypted phone network investigations, for which a number of others have been charged.

Luke Donaghy (25) from Killymoon Road and Philip Carson (28) of Drumearn Road, both in Cookstown, along with Andrew Farmer (27) of Beltrim Crescent, Gortin are jointly accused of possessing and intending to supply Cocaine and Cannabis on 8th October, as well as having criminal property.

Donaghy faces further charges of fraudulently importing drugs, being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis and conspiring with others to possess these and transfer criminal property between March and June this year.

Carson is additionally charged with permitting his home to be used for the production of drugs.

A detective constable told a special sitting of Dungannon Magistrate's Court on Saturday all charges could be connected.

He explained Police entered Carson’s home on the evening in question and found an hydraulic press in the living room, while numerous boxes containing “substantial quantities of white” powder were discovered in the kitchen.

Blenders were also located as were compressed blocks of powder, latex gloves, a vacuum sealing machine and plastic bags.

All three defendants were present and Donaghy and Farmer were noted to be wearing white Hazmat suits and gloves.

A quantity of the powder tested positive as Cocaine and the remainder is believed to have been cutting agent.

The detective told the court: “We are of the view they were going to cut the Cocaine and re-press it in the hydraulic device to give the impression it hadn’t been adulterated.”

In addition, 200grms of herbal Cannabis was located in self-seal bags as well as £9,000 in cash, in bundles of £1000.

Chocolate bars containing Cannabis were recovered from a freezer.

Following arrest, Donaghy refused to speak during interview and Farmer gave "no comment" responses.

Carson admitted allowing the co-accused to use his property for the production of drugs in return for an agreed payment of £1,000.

While he understood this was to assist them, he claimed to have no direct part in their criminality.

He accepted owning the Cannabis-infused chocolate and in respect of the seized cash, contended he was “looking after this for another man” but refused to provide a name.

Bail was opposed for all three accused, with the court hearing Farmer has a previous record and is currently on licence after serving a custodial sentence for possessing drugs with intent to supply.

Donaghy was described as having a previous record and “well known to police”.

While Carson has no convictions, the detective stated: “The drugs were obviously willingly on his property without being put under any duress. The volume involved clearly indicates his level of connections. Police believe this was the beginning of a venture as opposed to an established one and we are concerned production may simply move to another location and criminality will continue.”

Refusing bail District Judge Steven Keown said: “This is a large-scale drugs operation involving all three defendants. It was a professional set up, with the amount and value of the drugs clearly putting these men very high up the chain. It is my view no conditions could manage the risk of reoffending.”

The case will be appeared again by vide-link later this month.

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