Last night, as part of a planned operation, detectives from Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Organised Crime Unit uncovered a drugs manufacturing factory in the Cookstown area and seized a significant quantity of suspected Class A drugs, namely cocaine, with an estimated street value of £600,000.
Police also seized cannabis with an estimated street value of £4,000, a large quantity of drugs paraphernalia, £10,000 of cash and a high-end car.
As a result, three men aged 25, 27, 28, were arrested. Notably, they were actively manufacturing and preparing drugs for distribution and wearing chemical suits when police arrived. The arrests relate to a number of drug related offences, including possession of Class A controlled drug, possession with intent to supply and possession of criminal property.
Detective Superintendent Zoe McKee said: “The operation also involved five searches within the last 24 hours of residential and commercial premises in the Mid Ulster area, where a significant number of children’s party equipment and other leisure equipment and vehicles were seized.
“This demonstrates the range of criminality this organised crime gang, which operates on an international scale, is involved in.
“I believe our actions have significantly disrupted the crime gang’s activities.
“The scale and nature of the operation have demonstrated the capacity, capability and intention of the gang, which is to cause fear and harm to individuals, local communities and wider society. They seek to profit from exploiting vulnerable people.
“Drugs cause significant harm. Not only do they pose a risk to the lives of people who take them, but also to their families who deal with the distressing fall out associated with drugs, including debt and intimidation.
“People who bring these drugs into our communities do not care about this pain and misery, instead they only care about the significant profits they can make.
“The Police Service of Northern Ireland will continue its relentless pursuit of those engaged in drugs criminality.
“I would encourage members of the community who may have information that could assist our efforts in taking drugs off the streets, to please get in touch. You can call 101, or you can submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/ .
“The independent charity Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/ ”