A spike in the number of drug seizures in Limavady and Magherafelt is a direct result of greater co-operation from the public, the region’s police chief has said.
Area Commander, Chief Inspector Sam Donaldson, said police have made it a priority to crack down hard on drug dealing in the two regions this year.
To date this year there have been 37 drug seizures in Limavady, compared to 24 over the same period in 2011. In Magherafelt there have been 26 seizures compared to 18 last year. The number of arrests for both areas have also jumped from 41 over the first nine months of 2011, to 65 to date in 2012.
Mr Donaldson yesterday unveiled the latest haul of drugs found during the search of a house in Magherafelt on Tuesday morning. A total of 38kgs of herbal cannabis were discovered with a street value of £380,000.
A large sum of cash was also found by police during a subsequent vehicle search.
Mr Donaldson confirmed police were now linking this haul to searches still being conducted in the Belfast and Omagh areas.
“People who operate across council boundaries have a bit of cunning about them and it is clear we have have tapped into something,” he said.
“The increase in seizures does not mean that there are more drugs out there — there is not — but people are coming forward with the right information.
“If people have the confidence to come forward with specific information then we can act.”
He said that the rise in the numbers of local people passing on information followed the roll out of Operation Silent Guardian, which has also been launched in Derry and is now starting up in the Maghera area. The campaign urges residents to contact police with specific information such as addresses and registration of cars being used by people they suspect of drug dealing.
Calling on anyone with information about the illicit trade to come forward, he said: “Think of your sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and say to yourself, ‘is that what I want my relative ending up getting involved in?’.”
Commending police for the latest successful drugs operation, Ulster Unionist MLA for mid-Ulster, Sandra Overend, said: “The entire Mid-Ulster community will be delighted and relieved. Drugs are a blight on our society and drug dealers prey on our young people without care for the misery that they bring.”