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Three people arrested in Belfast in Lithuanian cross-border crime group investigation

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The PSNI conducted 5 searches in Belfast.

The PSNI conducted 5 searches in Belfast.

The PSNI conducted 5 searches in Belfast.

The PSNI conducted 5 searches in Belfast.

Three people have been arrested in Belfast.

Three people have been arrested in Belfast.

The PSNI conducted 5 searches in Belfast.

Three people have been arrested in Belfast as part of an investigation into Lithuanian organised crime groups involved in drug and human trafficking in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It follows five searches in Belfast on Wednesday in a joint operation with judicial authorities and police in Lithuania and the Republic of Ireland.

Two men, aged 40 and 44, and a 39-year old woman were arrested under the Misuse of Drugs Act and the woman was arrested on suspicion of being involved in human trafficking. The 44-year-old man was arrested via a European Arrest warrant.

The 44-year-old man appeared at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday while the 40-year-old man remains in custody. The woman has been released on bail, pending further enquiries.

Detective Inspector Shaw said: “The Organised Crime Group targeted is believed to be responsible for trafficking large quantities of heroin into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is also believed that one of the members of this group, who is from Lithuania, is responsible for recruiting and trafficking people from Lithuania for drug trafficking and money laundering in Northern Ireland.

“The arrests and the seizure of cash and drugs-related paraphernalia would not have been possible without the close collaborative working of all the agencies involved."

Since 2014, the PSNI has arrested 54 people with links to the group, who have appeared in court for drug offences linked to heroin.

Detective Inspector Shaw said: “In 2018 a joint investigation team (JIT) was set up between the Lithuanian authorities and the Police Service of Northern Ireland with financial and analytical support from Eurojust. Authorities in the Republic of Ireland also joined the JIT during this investigation.

"The success of this operation, which involved a two and a half year investigation, would not have been possible without the close co-operation and sharing of information and evidence between the Lithuanian, Irish and Northern Irish authorities, as well Eurojust’s support in facilitating the judicial cooperation between all the parties involved.

"The success of this operation, which involved a two and a half year investigation, would not have been possible without the close co-operation and sharing of information and evidence between the Lithuanian, Irish and Northern Irish authorities, as well Eurojust’s support in facilitating the judicial cooperation between all the parties involved.

“This was a highly complex operation which has proven that taking a collaborative approach can definitely bring about very positive outcomes."

Belfast Telegraph