Eleven arrested in 'significant operation' into criminality of east Belfast UVF
Eleven men have been arrested as part of what police have described as a "significant operation" into the east Belfast UVF.
Officers from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF) carried out 14 searches in the Greater Belfast, Ards and Comber areas on Friday morning.
The searches resulted in the seizure of £15,000 of suspected Class A drugs, a number of high value vehicles, high end jewellery, clothing and accessories and a significant quantity of cash.
Following the raids police arrested eleven men aged between 22 and 48, they are currently in custody being questioned by detectives.
Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton said that the east Belfast UVF had been a priority for the PCTF since its inception "owing to the breadth and scale of criminality and the violence against and coercion of the community that goes hand in hand with it".
"Paramilitaries claim to protect local people but in reality they exploit them by supplying illegal drugs and using violence to try and control their markets," he said.
"East Belfast UVF are nothing more than a drugs gang who operate under a flag of convenience in an attempt to legitimise their existence.
"Working with our partners and communities we are determined to rid our communities of these parasites."
Detective Superintendent Singleton said Friday's investigation would likely lead to further action by the PCTF.
"PSNI clearly has a role to play in terms of tackling the criminality of these groups and that’s why today’s PCTF operation is significant," he said.
"Today’s operation demonstrates what we can do when we have information about the activities of these groups. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those that are standing up to paramilitaries across Northern Ireland, your courage is an inspiration to us all, thank you.
"Anyone with any information no matter how trivial they may think it is, should bring that to police or to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital