Police seize drugs worth £3.3m in Northern Ireland
More than £3m worth of drugs have been seized across Northern Ireland over the last two months, the PSNI has revealed.
The drugs were seized as part of Operation Torus - a bi-annual crackdown to tackle street-level drug dealing across the province.
Between September 5 and October 31 police recovered a total of £3.36m worth of drugs in 586 seizures.
They also conducted 674 searches and made 373 arrests - of which 279 were either charged or reported to the Public Prosecution Service.
Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Andrea McMullan, from the Reactive Organised Crime Branch, described the operation as "a great success".
"In the eight weeks of the operation we have removed over £3.3m worth of drugs from our streets," she said.
"This is further evidence that we are committed to tackling those involved in the illegal drug trade, both at street dealing level, and also organised crime gangs.
"We will continue to arrest drug dealers involved in the sale and supply of drugs, disrupt the crime groups involved, bring individuals before the courts and work with communities and partner agencies to reduce the threat of harmful and illegal activity."
She revealed that cannabis is the most common drug found in Northern Ireland.
"We're seeing the full range, but the majority of the drugs that we see are cannabis - whether that's cannabis resin, herb or plant," she said. "Then we're seeing cocaine and very small quantities of heroin - but that's in very particular communities. We're also seeing quite a few prescription drugs like Tramadol, Diazepam, Temazepam and some amphetamines."
Drug dealing, she said, was not limited to specific districts and she urged people across the country to help the police tackle the problem.
"We as police will do everything that we can to tackle this issue, but we need to work in partnership with our local communities."
"I encourage people to share any information, no matter how small, with us."
According to the PSNI, there were 5,308 drugs seizures in the year to August this year - a slight increase on the previous year - while there were 2,797 drugs-related arrests, a 5% drop on the previous 12 months.
Last week, at a Stormont Justice Committee briefing, law enforcement representatives revealed that police are fighting 138 organised crime gangs in Northern Ireland.
The groups include home-grown paramilitaries as well as criminals from abroad who are involved in a wide range of illegal activities such as drug dealing, sexual exploitation and fraud.
Some 67 gangs are under active investigation, and in recent months 28 have been dismantled.