Northern Ireland

'Sophisticated drugs network' with links to Northern Ireland probed by police

Police investigating a "sophisticated drugs network" with links to Northern Ireland have arrested a woman in London.

The 24-year-old's arrest is the latest stage in a complex investigation and followed the seizure of £560,000 worth of cannabis in Belfast earlier this month.

She is being brought to Belfast for questioning.

Two men have been charged in connection with the seizure.

A 29-year-old woman who was also arrested has been released on bail.

Police said following the woman's arrest that a number of items had been seized from premises in London for further examination.

The cannabis, with an estimated value of £560,000, was recovered by police at premises in Donegall Quay in south Belfast on 8 October.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it was investigating a network in which drugs were posted into Northern Ireland from locations outside the UK and then re-distributed to other parts of Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Police said upmarket residential premises had been used in Belfast as a distribution hub and that they have also recovered equipment that is used in cannabis cultivation.

A number of linked cash and drugs seizures have been made in other parts of Northern Ireland, including Carrickfergus, County Antrim, and Portadown, County Armagh.

Cars have been seized and restraining orders imposed on bank accounts.

The officer leading the investigation, Det Insp Andy Dunlop, said: "This is a rapidly evolving investigation which so far has identified patterns of cannabis delivery into Northern Ireland, the movements of substantial amounts of money between bank accounts within the UK and evidence of cannabis cultivation here.

"I believe that an organised crime group with strong links to south east Asia has been operating a major drugs supply network .

"We have devoted substantial resources to this investigation from within organised crime branch and district policing and we will continue to police the threat posed by drugs as part of our commitment to keep people safe."