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Northern Ireland

Five arrests and 21 kilos of cocaine seized by UK police investigating 'NI crime group'

Four men based in Northern Ireland are suspected of being involved in the importation of drugs from the continent.

FIVE PEOPLE HAVE been arrested as part of an investigation into a crime group suspected of attempting to import cocaine worth £1 million.

Officers acted to arrest the five on Thursday, detaining three men in the Essex area and two more in North Wales. Three lorries were also seized.

The men are suspected of being involved in the importation of class A drugs from the continent. In one lorry, a complex concealment was located which once opened was found to contain around 21 kilos of cocaine.

Four of those arrested are known to be based in Northern Ireland, the other man is from the north of England. They are all aged between 21 and 59.

The five men were questioned by NCA officers, and have now been released on bail.

The National Crime Agency carried out the arrests, with supported from the PSNI. Specialist Border Force officers were called in to conduct detailed searches of the HGVs.

At the same time officers from the NCA and PSNI time carried out searches at a number of properties in Northern Ireland. The investigation has also been supported throughout by An Garda Síochána and the Organised Crime Task Force.

NCA Regional Head of Investigations Gerry McLean said:

“This is a highly significant operation in terms of our activity to target organised crime impacting on Northern Ireland.

In making these seizures we have both prevented a large quantity of drugs from reaching our streets, and denied criminals an important avenue for smuggling.

“I’d like to thank colleagues from the PSNI, Garda and Border Force, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the results we have so far. Our investigations will continue.”

Detective Superintendent Rachel Shields, from Police Service NI’s Criminal Investigation Branch said: “Our detectives have been working in collaboration with the NCA in relation to this operation for some time.

These arrests and seizure are significant in terms of the quantity seized, and in terms of the disruption caused to organised criminals.

“We will continue to work closely with, and support the NCA in their work to disrupt the nefarious activities of organised crime groups.”