Three suspects held after drug seizures linked to dissidents
Three people have been arrested on suspicion of paramilitary activity connected to the INLA after drugs, counterfeit clothing and cigarettes were discovered during a number of searches in Londonderry.
The two men, aged 45 and 60, and a 57-year-old woman, were detained in the city yesterday under the Terrorism Act and taken to Musgrave Street Police Station in Belfast for questioning.
A number of searches were carried out in the Galliagh, Buncrana Road and Ballymagroarty areas of Derry in relation to INLA criminality, including the supply of controlled drugs and illicit cigarettes, money laundering and a recent paramilitary style attack which took place on November 14 in the Ballymagroarty area. A quantity of Class A and B drugs were seized from the search in the Galliagh area and a 17-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of possession of the drugs with intent to supply.
Quantities of suspected Class C controlled drugs were recovered from the searches in the Ballymagroarty and Buncrana Road areas, along with cash, computers, documentation and phones.
This follows a PSNI operation on Tuesday when police supported HM Revenue and Customs officers, who visited 10 shops in the Derry and Strabane areas where approximately 36,000 illicit cigarettes and five kilograms of illicit tobacco were seized.
Counterfeit clothing, footwear, DVDs and CDs were also recovered from three of the shops.
Meanwhile, a 56-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday by HMRC over the discovery of 19,800 illegal cigarettes from one of the shops in the Galliagh area.
He has subsequently been released, pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.
Detective Inspector Tom McClure of the PSNI's Organised Crime Unit said the operations show the INLA in Derry and Strabane is heavily involved in a wide range of criminal money-making rackets, including extortion, supply of controlled drugs, counterfeit goods and money laundering.
He said: "As well as taking a cut from alleged local drug dealers (known locally as 'pay-to-stay') INLA are also supplying controlled drugs themselves.
"We also believe they are heavily involved in the importation and supply of illicit cigarettes into the North West."