Illegal drugs worth more than £1m have been taken off the streets of Northern Ireland in a major police operation over the past eight weeks.
The huge haul — including cannabis, cocaine and prescription drugs — was recovered as part of Operation Torus, aimed at cracking down on street-level drug dealing.
More than 2,400 searches resulted in 411 arrests across the country since Torus was launched in August.
The biggest individual seizure was made in Magherafelt last month when 38 kilos of suspected cannabis — worth an estimated £380,000 — was recovered.
The operation, which ended on October 12, was supported by a media campaign incorporating Facebook, billboards and washroom advertising designed to encourage people to report drug dealing to police, who then used the information to act against drug dealers.
Assistant Chief Constable for Crime Operations Drew Harris (right, with some of the haul) said he regarded Torus as a success, but said it also highlighted the level of drug dealing in Northern Ireland.
“It does exceed what we had expected we would have recovered,” he said. “That is good, but we are left with a residual concern at the street-level dealing that is going on.”
Mr Harris said the operation was sparked after major concerns were raised by children being targeted by dealers.
“This operation was one response to concerns raised by parents and teachers around drug dealing to pupils and school children.
“We wanted to attack the distribution of these drugs.”
Mr Harris explained that, although the operation has ended, tackling drugs “remains a policing priority”.
Anyone with information about drugs is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000, or alternatively call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.