DETECTIVES from the PSNI’s Organised Crime Branch are hailing a raid on a cannabis factory as a major blow to a sophisticated crime gang.
And the head of the OCB warned: If you are involved in criminality we will be coming after you.
Eight people were arrested on Tuesday following the discovery of a cannabis factory among the rolling green hills of County Down.
Eleven properties across Co Down, Co Antrim and Greater Belfast were raided.
A drugs factory was uncovered in the Ballyward area while seven cars used by the suspected crime gang were seized in Belfast, Newry and Glenavy.
Police also found £7,500 in cash.
Seven men, and a 49-year-old woman, were taken into custody.
The woman and two of the men have since been released on police bail.
Five men – aged 30, 36, 38, 45 and 48 – have been charged with a number of drug related offences.
The charges are cultivation of class B controlled drug, possession of Class B controlled drug and possession of a class B controlled drug with intent to supply.
They are due to appear before Downpatrick Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning.
Police said OCB officers had disrupted a major organised crime gang after they seized an estimated £350,000 of drugs in a raid near Castlewellan.
In total, seven vehicles worth over £100,00, including two BMWs and a Mercedes were also seized by detectives.
Police said it was a sophisticated cannabis factory that involved the re-routing of electricity cables.
Detective Chief Supt Roy McComb, head of the Organised Crime Branch said the raids had hit hard a major crime gang.
“Not only have we seized cannabis with a street value of £350,000, we have also seized the proceeds of their criminal activitity to the value of more than £100,000.
“Our message to those involved in this type of activity is that we are coming after you and we will take your drugs and your proceeds of crime,” added DCS McComb.
Anyone with information about organised criminal activity can ring the PSNI on 0845 600 8000.
Or they can pass the information anonymously to the freephone Crimestoppers number on 0800 555 111.