Gardaí have charged two language students over a seizure of almost €350,000 worth of cannabis in Dublin during an investigation into organised crime.
Turkish cousins Oguzhan Altuntas (30) and Burak Gurel (29) appeared at Dublin District Court on Thursday. They were charged over the drug seizure at their apartment on Tuesday, November 2nd in George's Quay, Dublin 2.
The court heard it was part of an ongoing investigation by the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB).
They were accused of possessing drugs for sale or supply at the apartment.
Gardaí Donal O’Donoghue and Marguerite Reilly objected to bail due to the seriousness of the case and flight risk concerns.
They told Judge Bryan Smyth that gardaí followed Mr Altuntas’s Audi A3 to East Wall Road in Dublin city. Cannabis and cocaine valued at €50 were allegedly in the car, along with a "burner phone".
Mr Altuntas allegedly gave his girlfriend's home in Drumcondra as his address and claimed a set of keys were for "an apartment back in Turkey". Instead, however, they were for his flat in Dublin. The court heard 58kgs of cannabis, worth €348,000, was found in two holdall bags under Mr Altuntas's bed.
His cousin arrived in Ireland the previous day and was in the front passenger seat in the Audi when stopped by gardaí.
It was alleged that CCTV showed them moving the holdalls on Tuesday afternoon to the car and bringing them back that night to the apartment.
Solicitor Roy O'Neill submitted his client, Mr Altuntas, came to Ireland two years ago as a language student. He later obtained work as a mechanic and, recently, in a café.
About the flight risk concerns, he pointed out that it was not the case that his client had been travelling to and from Turkey. He also had a girlfriend in Dublin.
Michael Kelleher, the solicitor for Mr Gurel, said his client had arrived a day before legitimately to attend an English language college in Dublin. The solicitor described it as a case of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
He argued the Director of Public Prosecutions may not proceed with the charges against his client; otherwise, a trial date may not be reached until 2024.
Judge Smyth granted bail with conditions they sign on twice daily at a Garda station, surrender their passports and travel documents, obey curfews and have no contact with each other.
The judge held that they need to approve independent sureties, €30,000 for Altuntas and €10,000 for Gurel.
The men made no reply to the charges and listened to the proceedings with the aid of an interpreter.
Judge Smyth remanded them in custody with consent to bail to appear at Cloverhill District Court next week. Legal aid was granted.