Two men arrested in INLA criminality investigation
Two men, aged 57 and 19, were arrested yesterday by detectives investigating criminality linked to the INLA in the north west.
Part of the operation was linked to an investigation into an incident earlier this year in the Divis area of Belfast, when an individual recklessly used an automatic weapon to fire a series of shots into the air in a heavily populated area.
On May 20, a volley of shots were fired into the air at the wake of former INLA prisoner Martin McElkerney. The triple killer was jailed in 1987 for his part in a 1982 booby-trap bomb which killed two schoolboys, Kevin Valliday (11) and his friend Stephen Bennet (14), as well as 20-year-old Lance Bombardier Kevin Waller.
McElkerney died in May after he was found with a gunshot wound at the republican plot in Milltown Cemetery.
Police said the 57-year-old man was arrested under the Terrorism Act in the Galliagh area of Londonderry.
The 19-year-old man was arrested under the Terrorism Act and the Misuse of Drugs Act in the Strabane area.
Both were taken to Musgrave Serious Crime Suite for questioning by police.
Three searches were also carried out and a number of items were seized for further examination including a large quantity of documents, mobile phones and electronic devices.
Detective Inspector Tom McClure said the search and arrest operation was "part of an ongoing investigation into the criminality of INLA in the north west".
"This group are a service priority for the Paramilitary Crime Task Force due to the level of threat, risk and harm they pose to our communities, and the breadth and depth of their criminality," he said.
"INLA in the north west are involved in violence, extortion and the supply of controlled drugs, illicit cigarettes and counterfeit goods and this strand of the investigation looks to take action against those directing this criminality and money laundering."
"The INLA in Londonderry and Strabane claim to be protecting their communities by shooting people who they accuse of being involved in crime but the reality is that they use violence and intimidation to control and exploit their communities.
"Their real motivation for using extreme brutality is to try and ensure that no one speaks out or encroaches on what they see as 'their patch', where they try to run organised criminal rackets solely for their own financial gain. Sometimes they even shoot people who they feel do not show them 'respect' or who they simply do not like."
The officer added: "There has been an increase in the number of paramilitary-style attacks over the past few weeks, which we believe have been carried out by INLA.
"The actions of this paramilitary group of thugs will do nothing but condemn communities to an escalated level of criminality, undermining the good work of others in the community who are trying to improve the lives and prospects of those in the local area," DI McClure said.