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PSNI seizes £400,000 in cash as two arrested in drugs probe

By David Young

Published 19/08/2016

Banknotes seized by the PSNI during a major drugs investigation in Armagh
Banknotes seized by the PSNI during a major drugs investigation in Armagh

More than £400,000 in cash has been seized during a PSNI swoop in Armagh as part of a major drugs investigation.

Two men were arrested and the money seized as part of an ongoing probe into illegal drugs supply and money-laundering.

The suspects, aged 30 and 32, were arrested after police stopped a lorry on the Portadown Road in the city.

A substantial amount of cash - a mix of sterling and euros estimated to be £215,000 and €225,000 - was uncovered in a holdall, a backpack and a plastic bag in the lorry's cab.

The total amount seized was estimated at £408,000.

A subsequent search of a property in Armagh led PSNI detectives to seize four high-value watches and other items.

A search of a property in the Sixmilecross area of Tyrone was also taking place last night.

The two suspects were yesterday being interviewed at a police station in Belfast.

Yesterday's raid represents the latest stage in an ongoing investigation into drug trafficking and money-laundering.

Last month detectives charged four people with a range of offences after seizing vehicles, cash and watches in Armagh.

Detective Inspector Tom McClure, from the PSNI's reactive and organised crime branch, said: "As four people are currently facing charges, it would not be appropriate at this time to comment on the specifics of this operation.

"However, we remain committed to making Northern Ireland a hostile environment for those individuals and groups who are involved in major drugs crime.

"We will continue to work to identify them, disrupt their activities, arrest them and place them before the courts.

"We will also seek to ensure they do not derive any benefit from their illegal activities."

Meanwhile, new figures released by the PSNI have revealed that there were more than 5,300 drug-related seizures in the 12 months up to this July.

And 2,807 people were arrested as part of drugs-related investigations in the same period.

In the Armagh area, where yesterday's cash was recovered, more than 500 drugs seizure incidents were recorded in the 12 months to July this year.

Belfast had the largest number of seizures recorded in the period - 1,591 - an increase of 86 on the previous year.

Worryingly, the volume of opiates, LSD and ecstasy seized by police is increasing, with opiates showing the greatest rise.

And dangerous new drugs are also appearing on Northern Ireland's streets.

Yesterday, the PSNI in Bangor reported via social media that they had seized an amount of an illegal drug called dimethyltriptamine, or DMT - a psychoactive drug that has been linked to a number of fatalities in England.

DMT - a drug once used by Amazonian tribes as part of their religious rituals - is a Class A banned substance, putting it in the same legal category as LSD, ecstasy and powerful opiates such as heroin.

Anyone with information about drugs or any illegal activity can contact police on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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