Eight men and one woman have been arrested as part of a cross-border investigation into organised illegal drug criminality linked to the INLA in Londonderry.
The suspects, all aged between 27 and 42, were arrested by the PSNI’s Paramilitary Crime Task Force in the Derry and Limavady areas throughout Wednesday and Thursday.
The woman has been released on street bail, while all eight men remain in custody.
Eight searches have been carried out during the two-day operation and a number of seizures made, including a significant quantity of cannabis, suspected Class A controlled drugs, other drugs paraphernalia, and a substantial quantity of cash in Euros.
Further searches were also carried out by gardaí in Kerrykeel and Buncrana in Co Donegal and in Finglas in Co Dublin and a number of electronic devices were seized.
Detective Chief Superintendent John McVea, Head of the PSNI’s Criminal Investigation Branch said: “The INLA in the North West are involved in all forms of criminality, including the organised illegal supply of controlled drugs.
“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.”
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, an unlawful organisation, and their involvement in the sale and supply of drugs in the north western part of the country on both sides of the border.
“The INLA like other gangs involved in drug dealing are making huge profits and benefitting from this legal activity.
“With our colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, we are committed to working together to ensure we keep everyone safe on both sides of the border.”
DCS McVea also addressed potential reluctance to come forward with information about drug dealing or other paramilitary organised criminality.
“I know that there are many people in the local community who are affected by INLA’s drug dealing and violence and they support our ongoing efforts,” he said.
“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.”
DCS McVea added: “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 on 101.”