Two assault rifles, a submachine gun, drugs, illicit cigarettes, clothes, DVDs and £13,000 have been seized by police and customs officers in what the PSNI have described as raids against the INLA in Derry.
Seven searches were carried out under the Terrorism Act on Tuesday in Derry by the PSNI’s Organised Crime Unit, police have said.
The Derry searches resulted in the recovery of three assault weapons as well as a quantity of Class B drugs, counterfeit clothing and DVDs, approximately £13,000 in cash, phones, tablets, documentation, over 7000 illicit cigarettes and a quantity of hand-rolling tobacco (HRT).
Two men aged 44 and 43 were initially arrested. The 44-year-old remains in police custody assisting detectives with their enquiries. The 43-year-old has been released on bail pending further enquiries.
A further search conducted in Co. Donegal by An Garda Síochána resulted in the recovery of 60,000 illicit cigarettes, a large quantity of tobacco, a large quantity of counterfeit clothing, DVDs and other items including money.
District Commander, Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said: “The INLA in Derry/Londonderry and Strabane claim to be the protectors of their community, but the reality is that they use violence and intimidation to control and exploit those communities.
“Weapons like the ones seized today pose a threat to everyone and anyone who brings guns onto our streets does not care about our community. When a gun is fired there is no guarantee where the bullet could end up or who it could harm and the people of our city have seen the damage and devastation that this can cause.
“Many INLA members are also involved in a range of criminal money-making rackets including the supply of controlled drugs, blackmail, extortion and money laundering.
"Despite what they say, it is clear that they do not mind drug dealers operating in the local area - as long as they’re getting their ‘cut’ from the profits.
"The INLA are hypocrites allowing those supplying illegal drugs to continue ruining the lives of those with addiction so long as they pay up – and if they don’t they are threatened with severe violence and murder. Local families suffer at the expense of INLA members lining their pockets."
DC McCalmont claimed the INLA were also heavily involved in the supply of counterfeit goods and illicit cigarettes.
He said this was not a victimless crime as profits made from the sale of these items can help to fund INLA terrorism.
“Through working closely with HMRC, An Garda Siochana and other partners, we will continue to tackle Paramilitarism. We know that the communities most affected by these groups support our ongoing efforts and I would appeal for anyone with information regarding criminality by paramilitary organisations to contact police on 101.
"Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”
Steve Tracey, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: "Working together in partnership with other enforcement colleagues we can target the criminal gangs who are stealing from the taxpayer, robbing public services and undermining legitimate traders."