OFFICERS from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force investigating the criminality linked to the East Belfast UVF have recovered over £600,000 of cannabis, following two searches in north Belfast and Co Antrim.

Detective Inspector Hamilton said: “Following a proactive policing operation in the area, suspected cannabis plants with an estimated street value of £435,000 were recovered at the scene.

“One man aged 45 years old was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of Cannabis, possession of Class B Controlled Drugs and possession of Class B Controlled drugs with intent to supply. ”

UPDATE: Police say the 45 year old man has been charged with a total of six offences including cultivating cannabis, possession of class B drugs and possession of class B drugs with intent to supply.

He’s expected to appear at Belfast Magistrates court this morning, Saturday 30 May.

As is usual procedure the charges will be reviewed by the PPS.

Added DI Hamilton: “Officers carried out a subsequent search at residential premises in the Ballyclare area as part of the ongoing investigation.

“In excess of £200,000 of suspected cannabis were seized during this subsequent search operation.

“Friday’s operation is evidence that the PCTF will continue to listen to the concerns of the community and act on any information provided.

“We will investigate all aspects of criminality being carried out by anyone purporting to be operating under the convenient flag of a paramilitary organisation.

“Paramilitaries are not defenders of their communities, instead they are criminals who prey on vulnerable people and exploit any circumstances they can for their own gain.

“Anyone with information about any criminality linked to paramilitaries should contact police on 101 or anonymously through the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111, which gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”

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