ORGANISED criminals running a drug trafficking network have been busted in a series of PSNI raids across Northern Ireland and England.
The PSNI’s Organised Crime Branch conducted 10 searches this morning, arresting nine people:
- Three men, aged 30, 40 and 42, and a woman, 44, in Londonderry
- Two men, aged 42 and 53, in Belfast
- A 48-year-old man in Newtownards
- Two men, aged 32 and 39, in Manchester
The local suspects have been taken to custody suites in Belfast, Antrim and Derry for interview, while the two arrested in England are being brought to Northern Ireland.
Small quantities of suspected drugs were seized, along with documents, cash, phones and jewellery, in the raids in Manchester, Derry, Belfast, Newry and Newtownards.
Detective Inspector Tom McClure said: “Today’s overt activity is the latest stage in a long-running proactive investigation into the supply of controlled drugs into Northern Ireland.
“Over the past year we have made a number of major drugs seizures in Northern Ireland amounting to more than £2 million. Nine people have already been charged in relation to these incidents.
“Today’s arrests involve some individuals who we believe operate at the higher echelons of an organised crime group which has been involved in bringing controlled drugs including cannabis and cocaine into Northern Ireland.
“Two of the seizures made over the past year were in Derry and our enquiries lead us to believe there is a strong Derry link to this criminal activity. But it is not confined to the north-west. Seizures over the past year were also made in Antrim, Belfast, Larne and Hillsborough.”
Organised Crime Branch detectives have been assisted by officers from Greater Manchester Police, the National Crime Agency, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and Police Scotland.
They believe the group’s illegal activities are taking place on both sides of the Irish Sea.
Mr McClure added: “Drugs wreck lives and we are determined to work with partners and communities to reduce the threat posed by these illegal and harmful substances and put suspects before the courts.
“We would ask people to continue to work with us in this wide-ranging investigation.”