VIDEO - Warning over Derry’s armed drug gangs after duo sentenced

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A detective has issued a warning over the deadly capabilities of some of Derry’s deadly drug gangs, as they displayed an arms cache uncovered during one operation.

A shocking arsenal of weapons including a machine gun, stun gun, grenades and a handgun and silencer have been uncovered in the investigation.

PSNI Detective Inspector Tom McClure spoke about matter after two Derry men, 30 year old Gary McPhillips and 28 year old Ryan O’Reilly, were jailed for eight and two years respectively for offences linked to the seizure of drugs and munitions in the city two years ago.

Officers from Organised Crime Branch seized £20,000 worth of ecstasy and methedrone, three firearms and ammunition, two high explosive military specification hand grenades, an electric stun device and a CS gas canister.

The weapons and drugs were seized during a search of a property at Hawkin Street in December 2012 linked to McPhillips and O’Reilly.

The search at Hawkin Street was part of a follow-up investigation into the seizure of £800,000 worth of cannabis in the Glengalliagh area of the city in May 2012.

One man, Mark McPhillips, was later jailed for seven years and stripped of all his assets after he was caught driving a van loaded with kitchen units containing the illegal drugs.

DI McClure said today: “These items which we recovered at Hawkin Street are worrying. They show a potential to cause serious injury or death, over and above the obvious harm posed by drugs. Thankfully, we have removed them before they can cause any damage.

“But there are worrying similarities to the violent paraphernalia associated with drugs gangs in large inner cities in Britain and Ireland where drugs are peddled for profit but cause nothing but destruction and where violence or the threat of violence are used to enforce these activities.

“We have taken this small arsenal which included a sub-machine gun, two handguns and two high explosive military specification hand grenades off the streets. We will continue to pursue any individual involved in organised criminality and drugs and put them before the courts. The criminal justice system is the only effective way of dealing with this community problem.”

He added: “Detectives in Organised Crime Branch will follow all investigative leads to frustrate, disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups involved in drugs with the objective of keeping people safe and putting suspects before the courts. We would continue to ask individuals and groups to work with us to minimise the threat and make our communities safer.”

The sentences imposed are to be served half in jail and half on licence. The court also imposed serious crime prevention orders on both men for five years to protect the community.