Three males - including a 16 year old - appeared in Naas District Court today after cannabis worth an alleged €1m was found at two County Kildare locations yesterday.
Alan McCabe, 33, whose address was given as 141 Ballyshannon Road, Kilmore West, Dublin is alleged to have had cannabis in his possession on November 3 at Junction 12 on the M7 Northbound.
Khac Quang Nguyen, 23, of no fixed abode is being prosecuted for possessing cannabis at Ballysax, Curragh, on November 3.
A 16 year old, who can’t be named for legal reasons, is also charged with possessing cannabis at Ballysax, Curragh on November 3.
Det Gda Ian Sheedy told of allegedly finding 10 kilograms of cannabis herb with an alleged estimated value of €200,000 when he stopped the defendant Mr McCabe driving a van, as a result of an intelligence led operation.
He said Mr McCabe was the sole occupant of the van.
He said a second person pulled in close by and both vehicles were driven in convoy to Ballysax and then back towards junction 12.
Some 1,000 cannabis plants with an alleged estimated value of €800,000 were found in Ballysax where two more arrests were made.
The court heard that Mr McCabe has no previous convictions and no history whatever of bench warrants..
However Gda Sheedy objected to bail citing the seriousness of the charges.
He said what while the defendant does not own the van it was given to him as a work vehicle.
He added that Mr McCabe had never come to the attention of the gardaí previously.
Applying for bail solicitor Tim Kennelly said the State is relying on one argument, the seriousness of the allegations, to oppose bail and there was nothing else to suggest the defendant would not turn up in court at a future date.
Det Gda Donal Donoghue gave evidence of arresting Khac Quang Nguyen at Ballysax shortly after noon yesterday.
He said it would be alleged that the defendant was working at the location “assisting in growing the plants.” He has been in Ireland since 2015.
When the defendant was charged today, he made no reply after caution.
Defending barrister Aisling Murphy said there would be no formal application for bail.
Sgt Hugh McInerney said when charged, the 16 year old replied “I didn’t know what plant it was” and “I didn’t know it was cannabis. They forced me to grow that plant. If I didn’t do it they would hit me.”
Sgt McInerney said he was satisfied the teenager is not registered in this country and he provided the name of a town and province in Vietnam as his original home.
A Vietnamese interpreter addressed the court on behalf of the latter two defendants.
Solicitor David Gibbons said the 16 year old speaks no English and told gardaí he had been snatched from his village in south Vietnam.
Mr Gibbons also said “he was living where he was found yesterday”
There is no record of the teen’s identity in Ireland, the court heard and a peace commissioner was present in court as a responsible adult, on his behalf.
The court also heard that Interpol are conducting inquiries to establish his identity.
All three were remanded in custody for a week.