PSNI searching properties in east Belfast last Friday as part of probe into UVF

SIX people arrested following searches on Friday by officers from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force probing east Belfast UVF drug dealing are to face a court next month.

Two men aged 32 and 40 have been charged with being concerned in the supply of a class A controlled drug and possession of a class A controlled drug

Two men, both aged 24 have been charged with being concerned in the supply of a Class A controlled drug and possession of a class B controlled drug

One woman aged 46 and a 37 year old man have been charged with being concerned in the supply of a class A controlled drug

All are due to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 18 April.

As is normal procedure all charges will be reviewed by the PPS.

Belfast policing commander Chief Supt Jonathan Roberts said on Friday: “There are five key priority groups for the PCTF and they comprise those who pose the greatest risk, harm and threat to our communities.

“This operation was developed to tackle the criminality of paramilitaries, specifically the East Belfast UVF in this case.

“The East Belfast UVF have been a priority for the PCTF since its inception due to the breadth and scale of their involvement in serious crime, including the supply of drugs and the violence and coercion that goes hand in hand with this.

“As with all of the key groups under investigation by the PCTF, they exist for the sole purpose of exploiting and controlling their own communities.

“Criminals that involve themselves in illegal drugs cause serious harm and misery in the community and can expect to be the subject of police investigation.

“They can expect to be arrested and every effort to be made to put them before the court.

“This type of police activity will continue. Today’s actions are evidence that Police will deal with illegal drugs and criminality.

“I would like to thank the community for their continued support and assistance as we tackle criminality through the criminal justice system.

“I also urge any member of the community who is living in fear of criminals to contact their local neighbourhood police on 101.

“Alternatively information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”

Drugs seized in police raids earlier this month in crackdown on east Belfast UVF

The operation follows on from last Friday when 11 men aged between 22 and 48 were arrested.  9 of the men were subsequently charged for a range of offences, one was released on bail pending further enquiries and one was released to be reported to the PPS.

A further 33 year old man was arrested on 27 March on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and was subsequently charged on 28 March.

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