Police went undercover to target an alleged crime gang dealing heroin in a Co Armagh town, the High Court has heard.
A judge was told one officer posed as an addict suffering withdrawal symptoms in a bid to detect suspected traders in Portadown.
Seven men and one woman have been charged with drugs offences in connection with the operation.
Details emerged as bail was refused to one of those the prosecution described as an “integral” member of the gang.
Glen Carroll, 31, whose address was given to the court as Navan Cottages in Armagh, faces nine charges of possessing, supplying and being concerned in the supply of heroin on dates stretching back to last November.
He was arrested along with his co-accused – five of whom are Portuguese nationals – in raids carried out three weeks ago.
Conor Gillespie, prosecuting, disclosed that audio and visual evidence has been gathered as part of a pro-active investigation targeting the suspected gang.
Referring to video footage, the barrister alleged: “It shows him in relation to supply on the streets of the greater Portadown area.”
Carroll denies acting as a heroin dealer, claiming he was only ever a user of the drug.
Defence counsel Chris Hogg told the court his client was introduced to an undercover policeman outside a bar in the town.
Using the name ‘Ian’, the officer claimed he was addicted to heroin and going through withdrawal symptoms, the court heard.
“The applicant, being himself a drug addict... had contacts to obtain heroin but made it clear when speaking to the undercover police officer that he was not a dealer,” Mr Hogg said.
The defence barrister claimed a routine developed where the policeman would provide £30-40 for drugs.
“Mr Carroll would simply say he was helping another heroin addict,” he said.
Rejecting allegations that his client was part of a criminal gang, Mr Hogg described him as a heroin user who became caught up in the operation.
At one stage the accused was injecting the drug up to three times a day, the court heard.
He then switched to smoking it, but is now taking a substitute on a replacement therapy programme.
Refusing bail, however, Mr Justice Deeny ruled there was a risk Carroll could either reoffend or flee if released.