Cannabis farm found in second day of Co Armagh police searches

Police uncovered a small cannabis factory, with an estimated street value of £32,000. Credit: PSNI

A £32,000 cannabis farm has been discovered by police in a second day of searches in Co Armagh.

It comes after a haul of firearms and swords were seized by police in the Garvaghy Road area of Portadown as part of an ongoing investigation into an organised crime group.

Three rounds of ammunition and £6,000 in cash were also recovered, along with quantities of class A and B drugs and associated paraphernalia, in six house searches in the Garvaghy Road area of Portadown on Monday.

Police returned for further searches on Monday evening and on Tuesday.

They uncovered a small cannabis factory, with an estimated street value of £32,000. A 31-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis, possession of a Class B drug, and possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply.

He is also being quizzed around possession of a prohibited weapon, pepper spray, and abstracting electricity.

Meanwhile, a house search in Banbridge, Co Down, on Tuesday saw a number of mobile phones seized by police.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Thornton said they have now carried out a total of 29 searches and made nine arrests in the investigation into an organised crime gang which started last October.

"Yesterday officers recovered nine suspected firearms, which will now be subject to investigation, several samurai swords, approximately #6,000 in cash, quantities of Class A and B controlled drugs, along with related paraphernalia," he said.

"One man, aged in his twenties - who was arrested on suspicion of drugs and firearms-related offences, has been released on bail to allow for further inquiries.

"Previously we have seized two knuckle-dusters, two machetes, a quantity of herbal cannabis and over half a kilo of cocaine. We have also seized and confiscated a vehicle, and over £15,000 as suspected proceeds of crime.

"This is a robust investigation into a serious and organised crime group who are involved in the most serious of criminality."

Mr Thornton said the group under investigation is responsible for bringing firearms and illicit drugs into the country, particularly the greater Craigavon area, and putting local people at risk.

"Illegal guns are smuggled in for one purpose only, and that is to cause injury and death," he said.

"Drugs are equally dangerous as they ruin lives and damage our communities.

"Yesterday officers found a quantity of suspected Class A drugs lying on the street where any child could have picked it up. They do not care who gets hurt or harmed as these criminals line their own pockets and live lavish lifestyles at the expense of others, leaving families and loved ones to deal with the inevitable devastation.

"This organised crime group's criminality stretches beyond the borders of Northern Ireland and we will continue to work alongside key law enforcement partners in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and further afield to carry out operations in order to break the cycle of those who cause harm through the illegal importation and supply of drugs and firearms.

"Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

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