Pictured: Police seize £32k along with paramilitary paraphernalia in UVF activity probe searches
The PSNI has seized £32,000 along with paramilitary paraphernalia and 9,000 illegal cigarettes during searches into criminal activity linked to the north Belfast UVF.
Detectives carried out 14 searches in Belfast and Newtownabbey over the past two days involving around 100 officers.
Three people were arrested under the Terrorism Act during the searches which took place in residential and commercial properties.
Seven properties were searched on Monday and a further six on Tuesday.
Northern Ireland football club Crusaders' Seaview ground was among one of the locations searched on Monday. In a statement the club said they are "perturbed" at the searches saying the "high profile" operation has smeared its reputation.
n response, the PSNI said: “Anyone who has a complaint about the actions of police can contact the office of the Police Ombudsman.”
Police said during the two-day operation they seized £32,000, 9,000 contraband cigarettes, an imitation firearm, money lending ledgers, UVF paraphernalia including flags, fleeces, belt buckle and ties, computers and mobile phones.
They also confiscated furniture, three vehicles and 24 airsoft rifles under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
On Monday a 56-year-old woman and a 39-year-old man were arrested in Newtownabbey on suspicion of terrorism offences.
The 39-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation, namely the UVF.
A 56-year-old man was arrested in North Belfast on suspicion of terrorism offences.
They are all currently being questioned at Musgrave Serious Crime Suite.
Detective Inspector Heather Whoriskey said: “While these searches and arrests focused specifically on the North Belfast UVF, we will continue to target all paramilitary groups and disrupt their illegal activities which only serve to blight the communities they operate in.
“These people target the most vulnerable members of their communities – people who are struggling to make ends meet or perhaps those who have an addiction and need help. The stark reality is that they are not helping but instead exerting control and fear over them.
“This is why we are committed to disrupting these types of criminal activities - including money lending, drugs and firearms offences, selling counterfeit goods as well as paramilitary style attacks - and the paramilitaries behind them.
“These criminals are a blight on society and the communities they exert their control over. We are working hard to rid our communities of the paramilitary groupings but we need your help.
“I understand that people feel afraid to speak out against these paramilitaries, but police need information from local people – as we will act on information we receive. It may not always be visible and immediate but please be assured that every piece of information is assessed and acted on.”
Anyone with information should contact the PSNI on 101 or if you wish to remain anonymous please phone the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.
Belfast Telegraph Digital