PSNI seizes £14,000 heroin cache during raid on village home
Packages of heroin have been discovered following a covert policing operation against trafficking of the deadly drug into Northern Ireland.
Officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) and PSNI swooped on a house in the Co Down village of Strangford on Tuesday night where they recovered £14,000 worth of suspected heroin.
It is understood the heroin was packaged and ready to be moved from the property in the Castle Street area of the village when officers arrived.
While the seizure was not as large as police had anticipated it has raised concern of a growing heroin market in the region.
Levels of heroin use in Northern Ireland have traditionally been significantly lower than those seen in other parts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
However, in recent years there have been warnings by the Organised Crime Taskforce of an expanding heroin market here.
Last summer PSNI were alerted to gangs selling heroin in two Belfast parks.
And in 2012 Coroner John Leckey said he feared that hardcore drugs like heroin were now widely available throughout the province during an inquest into the death of a 26-year-old Belfast man who died after taking heroin.
Police are hopeful that Tuesday's operation in Strangford will have disrupted the flow of heroin supplies in the province.
PSNI Detective Inspector Keith Gawley said: "A proactive search with colleagues in NCA was launched in the Strangford area on the evening of August 25.
"Suspected heroin with a criminal value of £14,000 was discovered at a house.
"The search was part of an operation against heroin importation."
Sinn Fein MLA for the area, Chris Hazzard, praised police for the drugs bust.
"We all know the damage that drugs have on the entire community, not only through addiction but by the crime associated with the trade, so I was delighted to hear that the PSNI have seized a significant amount of heroin in Strangford," he said.
Mr Hazzard added: "Heroin is a Class A drug that is highly addictive and has caused the death of many users, so having them removed from our communities will undoubtedly save lives."
He appealed for help to "defeat those who are intent on poisoning our children for a quick profit".
"I would appeal to anyone who has information on drugs to bring it forward to the relevant authorities and for those who are suffering through the misuse of drugs to seek help through the many agencies that offer support," Mr Hazzard added.