Northern Ireland

Seven sentenced after NI drugs smuggling ring dismantled

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Media captionSearches uncovered cannabis, cocaine and tablets which police said were worth £2.5m

Seven members of a Northern Ireland gang have been sentenced for their role in a drugs smuggling ring uncovered by police more than two years ago.

The men from Belfast; Ballymena in County Antrim; Coagh in County Tyrone and Tandragee in County Armagh, got varying terms of imprisonment.

They were arrested after separate police operations in Belfast in 2010.

Subsequent searches uncovered cannabis, cocaine and tablets which police said were worth £2.5m.

The searches took place at Duncrue Link in October 2010 and Apollo Road in December of that year.The bulk of the haul was cannabis but a 1kg of cocaine and a sizeable sum of money was also seized.

The court was told that 29-year-old Ryan Black, whose address cannot be published, was the ringleader and William Johnston, 35, of Windermere Park, Belfast, was his "trusted lieutenant".

The others were couriers or had more minor roles.

Black was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years, of which he will serve half on licence.

Johnston was sentenced to six years and nine months. He, too ,will serve half in custody.

Black has already spent a significant amount of time on remand and this will be taken off the custodial part of his sentence.

The other members of the gang who have been sentenced are: Warren Martin, 38, of Windsor Terrace, Coagh, County Tyrone; Aiden Joseph McPartland, 33, of Deramore Gardens, Belfast; Anthony McStravick, 33, of Ailesbury Road, Belfast; Mark Mulholland, 27, of Colonsay Park, Ballymena and James Turley, 53, Ballymore Road, Tandragee.

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