There are up to 180 crime gangs in Northern Ireland engaged in lucrative activities such as counterfeiting and fuel smuggling, police have said.
A significant minority have or had ties with paramilitaries, Chief Supt Roy McComb added.
They deal in whatever commodity they can make money from and have ties with other parts of the UK and Ireland, Stormont's justice committee heard.
Mr McComb and other experts in organised crime gave evidence to the committee yesterday. “The number of crime gangs that we have identified moves around, it is a reasonably fluid amount, somewhere between 160 and 180 crime gangs,” he said.
“That is 160 crime gangs in Northern Ireland, the majority did not do single crime types, the majority do multiple crime types.”
Mr McComb said a “healthy minority” of the crime gangs had paramilitary links.