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Significant £3m Belfast cocaine and cannabis seizure one of the largest ever in Northern Ireland

Detectives initially discovered £1.8m of drugs on Feb 12, however, follow-up searches uncovered another £1.2m of drugs hidden under the floor of the trailer

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Detective Inspector Conor Sweeney speaks to the media in front of drugs seized by police at Belfast Harbour (Liam McBurney/PA)

Detective Inspector Conor Sweeney speaks to the media in front of drugs seized by police at Belfast Harbour (Liam McBurney/PA)

Detective Inspector Conor Sweeney speaks to the media in front of drugs seized by police at Belfast Harbour (Liam McBurney/PA)

The discovery of cocaine and cannabis with an estimated street value of £3 million is one of the biggest drugs seizures in Northern Ireland, police have said.

Detectives initially discovered £1.8 million of class A and class B drugs when they stopped a lorry at Belfast Harbour in the early hours of February 12.

However, follow-up searches of the vehicle have now uncovered another £1.2 million worth of drugs hidden under the floor of the trailer.

It is obviously a very significant seizure. It is actually one of the largest single seizures that we have hadDetective Inspector Conor Sweeney

Detective Inspector Conor Sweeney from the PSNI Organised Crime unit said the operation was part of an ongoing effort to target large scale importations of drugs at harbours and ports.

He said: “Initial searches uncovered approximately £1.8 million of drugs. Since then further searches have located, concealed under the floor of the trailer, an additional approximately £1.2 million worth.

“That is both class A cocaine and class B cannabis and a combined value of roughly £3 million.

“It is obviously a very significant seizure. It is actually one of the largest single seizures that we have had.”

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Part of a £3 million drug seizure of cocaine and cannabis that was intercepted at Belfast Harbour. The find is one of Northern Ireland’s largest recorded. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 22 2021. See PA story ULSTER Drugs. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Part of a £3 million drug seizure of cocaine and cannabis that was intercepted at Belfast Harbour. The find is one of Northern Ireland’s largest recorded. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 22 2021. See PA story ULSTER Drugs. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Part of a £3 million drug seizure of cocaine and cannabis that was intercepted at Belfast Harbour. The find is one of Northern Ireland’s largest recorded. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 22 2021. See PA story ULSTER Drugs. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

He added: “It is part of a broader picture. It is part of our Operation Fusion which is specifically targeting the importation of drugs into our ports and our harbours to supply organised crime gangs and the work in Fusion over the last 14 months has seized about £20 million of drugs and taken that off the streets.

“We are very keen that we build on this success and that we keep getting these seizures. We can’t make drug seizures like this without the help of the local community.”

Mr Sweeney said that large scale importations of drugs are typically used to supply multiple organised crime gangs in Northern Ireland, including paramilitary groupings.

He said: “It is terrifying to think of what that money could be used to fund, in terms of buying weaponry, being used to further exert their influence and grip over the local communities.

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Detective Inspector Conor Sweeney said drugs were used to fund multiple criminal gangs in NI (Liam McBurney/PA)

Detective Inspector Conor Sweeney said drugs were used to fund multiple criminal gangs in NI (Liam McBurney/PA)

Detective Inspector Conor Sweeney said drugs were used to fund multiple criminal gangs in NI (Liam McBurney/PA)

“To be able to make a seizure such as this and the other ones we have had in the past, it is not just hitting one organised crime gang, it is hitting multiple organised crime gangs.

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“They have come in from outside of Northern Ireland, so that has been facilitated by organised crime gangs in other countries, including England and possibly further abroad.

“We have our organised crime gangs within Northern Ireland that are working in contact with them.

“We do live in a multi-national world and everybody is connected to everybody else and organised crime gangs are no different, they will communicate with their counterparts in other countries and they will try to arrange the facilitation of this type of material.

“Typically in terms of the large seizures that we do get, they will go to supply multiple organised crime gangs and some of those will be paramilitary organised crime gangs on both sides of the community.”

One man has previously appeared in court on charges of possessing Class A and Class B drugs with intent to supply in relation to the seizure at Belfast Harbour.

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