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organised crime Former PSNI boss says Balkan gangs 'dominating' Northern Irish sex and drugs trade

'And what happens in London today will happen in Belfast in the not too distant future'

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Roy McCombe used to head up the PSNI's Organised Crime Branch

Roy McCombe used to head up the PSNI's Organised Crime Branch

Roy McCombe used to head up the PSNI's Organised Crime Branch

The former head of the PSNI’s Organised Crime Branch has said Balkan crime gangs are “dominating” crime and modern slavery rackets in Northern Ireland.

Former Chief Superintendent Roy McComb said weak law enforcement in eastern European states mirrored that of Northern Ireland giving organised crime groups a base to work from before expanding internationally.

Mr McComb left the PSNI in 2014, and at the time said crime groups were targeting the sex trade in the country.

He also spoke of the recent overthrowal of Afghanistan, saying groups like the Taliban would “benefit” from the fact that the “majority of heroin in the world comes from the poppy fields of Afghanistan”.

Speaking of criminality in Northern Ireland he said the eastern European gangs buttressed the sex trade in the north.

Going back to what he said in 2014, he said: “And was I proven wrong?”

He also accused paramilitaries of using “flags of convenience” to cover up their drug dealing.

Speaking of the influence Balkan gangs have in Northern Ireland he said they “fundamentally control parts of the organised crime network, particularly around drugs and to some extent around human trafficking.”

He added: “And what happens in London today will happen in Belfast in the not too distant future. What has happened in London in the past few years is happening in the streets of Belfast and Northern Ireland.”

Mr McComb said some eastern Europeans are “muscling their way into areas and they are working not only amongst themselves but with organised crime groups.”

He also said the groups have access to “sophisticated weapons”.

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Speaking of the drugs culture in Northern Ireland, Mr McComb said: “People will casually say: ‘I had a busy weekend – I did a few lines of gear and they think nothing of it.

“But if you said, ‘I had a really busy weekend, I broke into a few houses or stole a couple of cars’ - it would cause shock and horror.

“Both actions are equally breaking the law but only the latter causes outrage.”

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