Three men and a woman from Derry were among those held in a major police swoop against drugs.
Detectives from PSNI’s Organised Crime Branch have launched the public phase of an operation to combat the supply of controlled drugs into Northern Ireland.
Officers made nine arrests and conducted 10 searches in various parts of Northern Ireland and the Manchester area.
Those arrested include:
• Two men, aged 32 and 39, in the Manchester area
• Three men, aged 30, 40 and 42 along with a 44 year old woman in Derry
• Two men, aged 42 and 53, in Belfast
• A 48 year old man in Newtownards.
The suspects have been taken to custody suites in Belfast, Antrim and Derry for interview. Searches were carried out in the Manchester area, Derry, Belfast, Newry and Newtownards. A number of items including documents, cash, phones, jewellery and small quantities of suspected drugs have been removed for further examination.
Organised Crime Branch detectives have been assisted by officers from Greater Manchester Police, the National Crime Agency, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and Police Scotland. The two suspects arrested in England are being brought to Northern Ireland.
The officer leading the investigation, Detective Inspector Tom McClure from Organised Crime Branch, said: “Today’s overt activity is the latest stage in a long-running proactive investigation into the supply of controlled drugs into Northern Ireland.
“Over the past year we have made a number of major drugs seizures in Northern Ireland amounting to more than £2 million. Nine people have already been charged in relation to these incidents.
“Today’s arrests involve some individuals who we believe operate at the higher echelons of an organised crime group which has been involved in bringing controlled drugs including cannabis and cocaine into Northern Ireland.
“Two of the seizures made over the past year were in Derry and our enquiries lead us to believe there is a strong Derry link to this criminal activity. But it is not confined to the north-west. Seizures over the past year were also made in Antrim, Belfast, Larne and Hillsborough.
“The activities of the group are located not only in Northern Ireland but also in the Manchester area where two key suspects were arrested today. They are being brought back to Northern Ireland for interview.
“Drugs wreck lives and we are determined to work with partners and communities to reduce the threat posed by these illegal and harmful substances and put suspects before the courts. We would ask people to continue to work with us in this wide-ranging investigation.”