A man police believe to be a drug trafficking and counterfeit cash kingpin will remain in custody after pleading not guilty to charges against him on Friday. 

Jordan Azzopardi, 29, from Madliena, who stated that he worked in the waste sector, pleaded not guilty to a multitude of charges ranging from trafficking and aggravated possession of cocaine, heroin and cannabis to criminal conspiracy and circulation of fake cash.

He was also charged with defrauding three shops in San Ġwann and Sliema, having an unlicensed weapon, making threats and hurting a third party and also breach of bail.

Mr Azzopardi was arrested during police raids in Madliena and St Paul’s Bay over the past two days. He did not request bail.

Two other suspects, allegedly involved in the circulation of false bank notes, were also arrested in the raids and were arraigned separately at staggered intervals in the course of Friday afternoon.

The first to be arraigned was a 30-year old mother. The court agreed to ban publication of her name, to safeguard the interests of her five children.

The woman pleaded not guilty to being involved in a criminal conspiracy, fraudulently  circulating fake cash and defrauding three stores in San Ġwann and Sliema. She was also charged with cannabis possession.

Answering solely that she was “self-employed,” the woman chose not to reply when asked to supply her address as part of the routine questions by the court’s deputy registrar.

No request for bail was made by the woman’s defence lawyer.

Later in the afternoon, the third suspect member in the fake cash racket was arraigned.

Mario Abdilla, a 66-year old from Valletta but currently without a fixed address or job, pleaded guilty to his involvement in the conspiracy.

Prosecuting inspectors Mark Mercieca and Shaun Friggieri told the court that Mr Abdilla would visit shops, allegedly on the instructions of his co-conspirators, to buy a low-value item using a high-value fake bank note.

He had reportedly been promised some €10 for each transaction, the court was told. However, he ended up empty-handed, with his co-conspirators allegedly pocketing the money he was owed.

Assisted by legal aid lawyer Christopher Chircop, Mr Abdilla admitted to his wrongdoing and was handed a three-year effective jail term after the court took note of his early guilty plea,  his collaboration and his conviction sheet.

The court finally recommended that the man be afforded help by the Prison Director so as to overcome his drug problem.

Lawyers Alfred Abela and Arthur Azzopardi were counsel to Mr Azzopardi and the mother.

Inspectors Mark Mercieca, Justine Grech and Shaun Friggieri prosecuted.

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