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Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 20 October 2020

Heroin smuggling gang operating in Ireland north and south and Lithuania targeted in Belfast raids

Three people were arrested in five searches yesterday.

An image of yesterday's operation.
An image of yesterday's operation.
Image: PSNI

THREE PEOPLE WERE arrested yesterday as part of a multi-national investigation targeting a drug importation gang operating in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Lithuania. 

The arrests were made by the PSNI after five separate searches in Belfast yesterday. 

Two men aged 40 and 44, and a 39-year old woman were arrested, with the 44-year-old arrested via a European Arrest warrant and subsequently appearing at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.

The two others were arrested on suspicion of drugs offences, with the woman also suspected of being involved in human trafficking. 

The PSNI says that the gang is suspected of being trafficking heroin into both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

“It is also believed that one of the members of this group, who is from Lithuania, is responsible for recruiting and trafficking people from Lithuania for drug trafficking and money laundering in Northern Ireland,” Detective Inspector Shaw said this afternoon.

The arrests and the seizure of cash and drugs-related paraphernalia would not have been possible without the close collaborative working of all the agencies involved. Since 2014 the Police Service of Northern Ireland have arrested 54 persons with links to the targeted Lithuanian Crime Group. These people have been taken before the courts for drugs offences related to heroin.

The PSNI says it has been working with Lithuanian authorities as part of this investigation since 2018, with An Garda Síochána subsequently also becoming involved. 

“This was a highly complex operation which has proven that taking a collaborative approach can definitely bring about very positive outcomes,” Shaw said.

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“We all know that serious and organised crime groups pose a significant risk of harm to the people of Northern Ireland. They are responsible for bringing in drugs and they deal in fear and exploitation which can bring misery to many.

Crime groups choose to exploit some of the most vulnerable people within our societies, preying on their vulnerabilities and exploiting them for their own ends.

“The only people to profit from are those at the top of the ‘drugs tree’. They are able to fund a lifestyle that we can only dream about. They don’t care that they have built their lavish life on the misery of those whose lives they have destroyed.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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