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South East Asian crime gang selling drugs from 'upmarket Belfast apartment'

The drugs were posted into Northern Ireland from Spain and then re-distributed across the North and in Britain.

A still from PSNI footage of Juan Guan entering Obel Tower in Belfast carrying a holdall containing 15kg cannabis
A still from PSNI footage of Juan Guan entering Obel Tower in Belfast carrying a holdall containing 15kg cannabis
Image: PSNI

A COURT IN Belfast has handed members of a South Asian gang prison sentences of up to five years for offences relating to the supply of cannabis from an upmarket apartment.

The drugs were posted into Northern Ireland from Spain and then re-distributed across the North and in Britain.

In October 2014, PSNI detectives from the organised crime branch swooped on an apartment in Belfast city centre, and seized £560,000 worth of herbal cannabis, smaller quantities of other drugs, cash and equipment used in cannabis cultivation.

A number of cash and drugs seizures were made subsequently in other parts of the North, including Carrick and Portadown.

Cars were seized and restraining orders imposed on bank accounts.

Op Karhold 15kg Herbal Cannabis Herbal cannabis found in the operation Source: PSNI

Laundered

The PSNI said they conducted a total of 12 searches, made seven arrests and interviewed 13 people during the investigation which was codenamed Operation Karhold.

The organisation distributed drugs – mainly cannabis – and laundered the proceeds from their sale.

Today at Laganside Courts, three gang members who admitted their roles in the crime organisation were sentenced.

Hui Lin, a 41-year-old described by the PSNI as an illegal immigrant was sentenced to five years in prison after admitting possession of Class A drugs, possession of herbal cannabis with intent to supply and importing cannabis.

He was also sentenced to a total of three years, to run consecutively, for various money laundering offences.

Op Karhold Euro Notes Bank notes found in Operation Karhold Source: PSNI

The investigation identified several bank accounts into which substantial amounts of money had been paid and then transferred.

One account in the name of female London student Ying Han Zhao had more than £66,000 lodged from Belfast in three months.

Three years for supplying cannabis 

Juan Guan, aged 38, from Jerusalem Street in Belfast was sentenced to three years after he admitted possession of herbal cannabis with intent to supply.

The PSNI have released CCTV footage showing Juan Guan entering Obel Tower carrying a holdall containing 15kg of cannabis, as well as footage of Hui Lin lodging cash at Santander Bank in Wellington Place in Belfast.

Source: PoliceServiceNI/YouTube

Yu Li, a 32-year-old also described as an illegal immigrant was sentenced to three and a half years after he admitted importing herbal cannabis and intending to supply it.

On Friday, two women were also sentenced at Laganside Courts for their roles in the operation.

Op Karhold Ketamine Cocaine  Amphetamine Smaller amounts of cocaine, ketamine and amphetamines were also found Source: PSNI

Haixia Guo, aged 31, with an address in Sheffield, was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, after she admitted a number of money laundering offences.

Student Ying Han Zhao, aged 25, with an address in London, was also given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, after she admitted three money laundering offences 

The PSNI said they hope to seize substantial assets from confiscation proceedings which are now being pursued.

Hostile environment

The officer leading the investigation, Detective Inspector Andy Dunlop, said:

This has been a lengthy and detailed investigation which began when we became aware of packages being sent from Spain in October 2014 and culminated in today’s sentencing.

“We have worked with colleagues in South Yorkshire Police and the Metropolitan Police along with the National Crime Agency to progress our enquiries and secure evidence to put before a court.The evidence was such that the defendants admitted the offences.

“[...]We believe we have taken down a major drugs supply network. The investigative reach by law enforcement has been extensive and effective. We are committed to making Northern Ireland a hostile environment for criminals.”

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