Three men and a woman charged over €2.1m cocaine seizure and the discovery of a suspected drug factory
THREE men and a woman have been charged following a €2.1m cocaine seizure and the discovery of a suspected drug factory linked to a “serious organised crime group.”
Some 28kg of the drug, worth €1.96m, was seized at a garage on Tuesday, after an earlier discovery of a 2kg batch worth €140,000 in a car that was intercepted after a drop-off, a court heard.
The accused – Wesley Shields (33), Dylan Grouse (27), David Rowland (42) and Lauren Graham (28) – all appeared in Dublin District Court today charged with possession of drugs with intent to sell or supply.
Judge John Brennan refused Mr Shields and Mr Grouse bail but granted bail for Mr Rowland and Ms Graham and adjourned all cases for the directions of the DPP and possible further charges.
The four accused were among eight people arrested in the raid by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau – the other four have been released without charge.
Mr Shields, a father-of-one from Kilmartin Gardens, Tallaght, is alleged to have been in possession of cocaine at his business, Shields Automotive, Parkmore Industrial Estate, Longmile Road, Walkinstown. Mr Grouse, an apprentice mechanic from Golden Lane, Dublin 8, is also accused of having drugs at the garage.
Mr Rowland, an electrician and a father-of-two from Earlsfort Vale, Lucan and Ms Graham, from Cappagh Green are accused of possession of drugs that were allegedly handed over at the Aldi car park, Longmile Road, Walkinstown.
Gardaí gave evidence of last night arresting and charging the four accused, none of whom made any reply after caution.
Objecting to bail, detectives said the charges arose from a garda operation targeting an Organised Crime Group involved in the importation and distribution of drugs nationally.
A search was carried out at Shields Automotive under warrant at 11.52m on Tuesday, the court heard.
When gardai entered the premises, there were six men present, including Mr Shields, and Mr Grouse, and 28kg of cocaine was found in 28 blocks in various rooms throughout the premises.
Paraphernalia including a hydraulic drugs press was found and gardaí also recovered €78,690 in cash and money counting machines.
There were 240 tubs with mixing agents and the valuation of the cocaine could change, the court heard.
When gardaí viewed CCTV, Mr Shields was seen earlier entering an office room with a blue power tool cardboard box.
It was alleged Mr Shields prepared this box that was subsequently found to have 2kg of cocaine in it and left it in for the next phase of the operation.
David Rowland was seen on CCTV collecting the box at the garage that morning, it was alleged.
According to gardaí, he was seen at 10.20am entering the office and picking up the cardboard box, looking inside and entering an adjacent room.
He left carrying the box to his silver Ford Transit van, where he placed it in a yellow plastic Aldi shopping bag.
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The court heard he was seen driving to the Aldi car park at Longmile Road where he parked at 10.30am next to a grey Fiat Punto driven by Lauren Graham.
He got out and took the Aldi bag from the rear of his van, opened the rear door of the Punto and placed the bag inside.
They left and Ms Graham was stopped minutes later at Landen Road, Ballyfermot.
When her car was searched, gardai found the bag containing a blue power tool cardboard box wrapped in brown tape.
Inside were two 1kg blocks of cocaine wrapped in yellow tape, with an estimated combined value of €140,000.
In another shopping bag were two plastic tubs with a white powder believed to be a drugs mixing agent.
Gardaí objected to bail in each case, saying the cocaine was found in a suspected cocaine processing and distribution facility and the accused were “vital cogs” in the operation of an organised crime group, providing logistical support.
Applying for bail, Mr Grouse’s solicitor Cian McCann said his client was presumed innocent, a trial could be years away, family could provide a €10,000 surety and he would abide by any bail conditions.
Det Gda Ivor Scully said this would not assuage his fears as the accused would “still have to engage with the Organised Crime Group to recoup the losses incurred.”
Mr Grouse, who formerly worked as a cash counter for a money services company, was not a flight risk, Mr McCann said.
Det Gda Ciaran Cummins alleged Mr Shields was “overseeing a drugs operation from his own premises.”
Mr Shield’s solicitor Colum Doherty, applying for bail, said there was no evidence his client was involved in an OCG.
He said Mr Shields was not a flight risk as he had ties to this jurisdiction, had one child and his wife was about to give birth “imminently.”
Det Gda Cummins said Mr Shields was the owner of the business and his name was over the front door.
The judge refused bail for both Mr Shields and Mr Grouse and remanded them in custody to Cloverhill District Court on February 23.
Barrister Tara McLoughlin applied for bail for Mr Rowland, saying her client was sole provider for his family and also presumed innocent.
Det Gda Mark O’Neill said he could not consent to any bail conditions.
Solicitor Tracy Horan, for Ms Graham, said her client was a “very vulnerable lady” suffering from mental health issues and was at the “very end of this food chain.”
Her family had been “flabbergasted,” she said.
Det Gda Marguerite Reilly said she would not be assuaged by bail conditions for Ms Graham given the scale of the alleged
Judge Brennan granted bail to Mr Rowland and Ms Graham under strict conditions, noting the distance between their cases and the alleged “factory.”
Each was granted bail at €3,000, with independent sureties of €10,000.
The terms include conditions that they sign on daily at their local garda stations and have no contact with their co-accused.
They were remanded in custody to the same date, February 23.