Arrests made in cross-border crackdown on drugs criminality linked to Derry INLA
Police have arrested eight men and a woman as part of a cross border investigation targeting organised illegal drug criminality linked to the INLA in Derry.
The suspects, aged between 27 and 42, were arrested in the Derry and Limavady areas on Wednesday and Thursday.
The female has been released on street bail and all eight males remain in custody at this time.
During the two day operation, officers from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF), supported by colleagues from the PSNI’s Operational Support Department and local district policing, conducted eight searches and seized a significant quantity of cannabis, suspected Class A controlled drugs, other drugs paraphernalia and a substantial quantity of cash in Euros.
As part of the operation, on Wednesday, working as part of the Joint Agency Task Force (JATF), Gardaí conducted seven searches of properties in Kerrykeel and Buncrana, in Co Donegal, and in Finglas, Co Dublin.
During these searches, a number of electronic devices were seized. The search operation involved local Garda Detective and Drug Units, the Special Detective Unit, the Garda Armed Support Unit and the Garda Dog Unit.
Commenting on the operation, Detective Chief Superintendent John McVea, Head of Criminal Investigation Branch, said: “The INLA in the North West is involved in all forms of criminality including the organised illegal supply of controlled drugs. This operation looks to take action against those involved in this illegal drugs supply. These criminals don’t care about the wider impact their drug dealing will have on the wider community and public services.
“They do not care about the harm and devastation they cause, all they want is to make money by whatever means they can. They prey on the most vulnerable in our communities, using fear and intimidation, callously exploiting peoples’ vulnerabilities in the most despicable ways possible. The money they take from people, who may be struggling financially, is used to line their own pockets and feed their own greedy needs.
“They use violence indiscriminately to control the community, stopping people giving information to police, leaving them free to exploit ordinary people in the areas where they operate.
“This operation is a prime example of how the Joint Agency Task Force (JATF) works on the ground to tackle organised and cross jurisdictional crime. The cross border JATF continues to provide opportunities for, and promote, real time collaboration between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI in our combined efforts to frustrate, disrupt and dismantle the activity of organised crime groups.”
Garda Superintendent Goretti Sheridan added: “This operation has been ongoing since the summer of 2020 where An Garda Síochána and the PSNI have been liaising and gathering intelligence regarding the unlawful activities of the INLA and their involvement in the sale and supply of drugs in the North Western part of the country, on both sides of the border. This is a borderless crime and it is imperative we, in An Garda Síochána, work closely with our colleagues in the PSNI in order to combat the sale and supply of controlled drugs which are devastating our communicates. The INLA, like other gangs involved in drug dealing, is making huge profits and benefitting from this legal activity.
“With our colleagues in the PSNI, we are committed to working together to ensure we keep everyone safe on both sides of the border. Our search operation yesterday forms part of our continued efforts to disrupt the movements and activities of organised crime groups and works to reduce and prevent criminal activity in border areas.”
Detective Chief Superintendent McVea continued: “The arrests and searches conducted yesterday and today are further evidence of our commitment to end paramilitary organised drug criminality in all its forms. I know that there are many people in the local community who are affected by the INLA’s drug dealing and violence and they support our ongoing efforts. However, I recognise and understand that there are some who may be reluctant to report this activity to the Police Service of Northern Ireland for various reasons. I would like to reassure everyone in the community that we will investigate all reports of crime fairly and proportionately, and where there is evidence bring this before the courts.
“Police, working with our partners and communities, are committed to tackling the scourge of this type of organised criminality. Drug dealers remain a priority for the PCTF due to the human rights abuses they carry out in their local communities and we are working hard to disband this organised criminal group. We will continue to listen to communities and act on information they provide, so I would encourage members of the public with information regarding drug dealing and any form of criminality to call us.”