Chinese Triads utilized the Irish postal system to launder £1m in drugs money
10 April 2013 Last updated at 17:32
Belfast court hears triads ‘posted £1m drug money’
A Chinese triad gang may have used the postal system to launder and transfer up to £1m in drugs money, a court has heard.
The alleged operation involved packages being sent between addresses in London and Belfast.
Counterfeit Chinese passports and nearly £70,000 in cash were seized during searches at one property in the east of Belfast in March.
Some of the money had been stuffed into books with the insides removed.
Wen Zyang, 23, of no fixed address, is charged with possessing criminal property and false identity documents. He is believed to be a highly-trusted member of the organised crime gang behind the racket.
He also faces two counts of transferring criminal property, namely £60,000 and £30,000 in cash.
All of the alleged offences occurred between December 2012 and March 2013.
The court heard how CCTV footage of a Chinese man paying rent on one of the suspected postal drop properties forms part of the police investigation.
Officers searched a house off the Albertbridge Road and discovered two large parcels posted from London.
After setting out the suspected triad involvement, a prosecution barrister said Mr Zyang was present and told police the parcels were “only books”.
One package was found to contain a large amount of literature, magazines and an envelope with three counterfeit passports.
Around £28,000 in cash was discovered inside two hardback books. Nearly £40,000 more was located in a bedroom.
A judge was told that a 2013 diary with entries in Mandarin was also recovered and translated.
The barrister said police believe it contained references to drug-dealing and money laundering activity.
“A number of individuals are named purchasing, and large sums of cash transferred through the postal system,” she said.
“Police believe that approximately £1m from this diary has been paid.”
The court heard that Mr Zyang made a number of admissions during questioning.
Opposing his release on bail the prosecution lawyer claimed that, based on what police suspect, Mr Zyang was “a highly-trusted member of this organised gang, trusted with large sums of money”.
The defence lawyer said his client, who came to Northern Ireland last year, had confirmed his identity on CCTV footage and cooperated with police.
He said none of the passports contained Mr Zyang’s photo.
“It does appear that this is going to involve a number of other individuals and other jurisdictions being investigated by other forces,” he added.
Mr Justice Treacy refused bail due to concerns the accused may flee or commit crime.
“Given the organised and apparently triad nature of the charges and the sheer scale of the illegality that there is in this case, there is a high risk of further offending,” he said.