Belfast Telegraph

Police uncover £2.5m of cocaine in two suitcases at Ballygawley commercial premises

By Lindsay Fergus

Police have uncovered one of the biggest hauls of cocaine ever made in Northern Ireland.

The class A drugs, with an estimated value of £2.5m, were found inside two suitcases hidden in a furniture delivery container at commercial premises in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone.

The 50-kilo single haul is more than the PSNI seized in a three-year period between 2011 and 2014.

During that time frame, 49 kilos of cocaine was discovered from 1,053 seizures.

There were only two seizures of three kilos or more. Half of all seizures were just one gramme or less.

Detective superintendent Noel Mullan, from Organised Crime Branch, said: "This was a fortuitous find and I want to commend district colleagues and everyone involved for their diligence when the suitcases were discovered.

"The white powder has been field-tested at the scene and it registered as cocaine.

"It has now been taken to Forensic Science laboratories under armed guard at Seapark for detailed examination."

Police made the discovery on Tuesday night following a tip-off. There is no suggestion that the company based at the premises knew what was in the container.

Det Supt Mullan added: "A conservative value for this haul would be £2.5m. A street value would be substantially higher.

"It is undoubtedly one of the biggest cocaine finds ever made in Northern Ireland.

"We will be working with law enforcement colleagues in various parts of the world to establish where this came from, where it was going to and who was involved.

"It is unlikely that such a substantial amount was destined for the Northern Ireland market but we'll see where our enquiries lead." No arrests have been made so far.

Justice Minister David Ford welcomed the news.

He said: "The discovery of this cocaine is very welcome and will undoubtedly prevent more misery and possibly save lives.

"We must never become complacent about the dangers of illegal drugs, because they ruin lives and can ruin communities."

MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Lord Morrow, has also praised police for the detection.

He said: "This is major in many ways.

"A major success for police, a major blow to drug dealers and a major relief for the public in general to have these drugs taken off the streets.

Meanwhile, police have seized 40,000 suspected stolen prescription painkillers following searches in Craigavon.

Two men were arrested yesterday in connection with the find.

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