Three arrested after crime agency makes its biggest ever drugs seizure in North

Cannabis valued at £10-12 million seized as officers pledge to disrupt drug supply routes

An estimated 600 kilos of herbal cannabis was recovered from among a cover load of vegetables from a lorry stopped in Templepatrick, Co Antrim in the early hours of Wednesday. Photograph:   National Crime Agency/PA

An estimated 600 kilos of herbal cannabis was recovered from among a cover load of vegetables from a lorry stopped in Templepatrick, Co Antrim in the early hours of Wednesday. Photograph: National Crime Agency/PA

 

Three men were arrested following the biggest drug seizure ever made in Northern Ireland by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), it was reported on Thursday.

The crime agency in a joint operation with PSNI officers stopped a lorry in the Templepatrick area of Co Antrim in the early hours of Wednesday morning and recovered an estimated 600 kilos of herbal cannabis from among a cover load of vegetables. The drugs are valued at an estimated £10-12 million.

NCA investigators arrested three men, including the lorry driver, on suspicion of conspiring to import controlled drugs. They are aged 62, 37 and 32, and from counties Tyrone, Derry and Armagh. All three remain in custody.

Two premises were also searched, one in Co Derry and one in Co Tyrone.

“This is an incredibly significant seizure of controlled drugs, the biggest the NCA has ever made here in Northern Ireland,” said NCA Belfast branch commander David Cunningham.

“A seizure of this size will have a huge impact on the organised crime groups involved in its importation, depriving them of commodity and, most importantly, profit,” he said.

“We are determined to do all we can with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle drug supply routes, not only here in Northern Ireland but across the UK,” he added.

PSNI Det Chief Insp Brian Foster said the discovery was made after police officers stopped a lorry entering Northern Ireland.

“This seizure of drugs is significant both in terms of the quantity and also the disruption this will have caused to the organised crime group who would have brought these drugs into our communities to make money for their own selfish gain,” he said.

“This successful operation demonstrates the significant benefits of joint working with law enforcement partners and we will continue to work closely with NCA to disrupt the nefarious activities of organised crime groups operating in Northern Ireland,” he added.