Paramilitary Crime Task Force officers today (Thursday) uncovered a cannabis factory containing plants with an estimated street value of around £90,000 in Carrickfergus.
The haul, which included mature plants and seedlings, was made during a search of vacant licensed premises and two residential properties in the Co Antrim town.
Detective Chief Superintendent Rachel Shields said: “The Paramilitary Crime Task Force continues to disrupt the criminality linked to organised criminals who brand themselves under the convenient label of paramilitarism. Today’s operation was part of our ongoing proactive investigation into criminality linked to South East Antrim UDA.
“The substantial number of cannabis plants seized demonstrates that members of South East Antrim UDA are steeped in drugs criminality. Ironically and hypocritically, the same people involved in the supply of cannabis and other drugs within the Carrickfergus community, are the very people carrying out paramilitary-style attacks on drugs dealers within the area.
“Today the PCTF has prevented hundreds of cannabis plants from being cultivated and circulated in the area and having the potential to harm local people. Buying and using cannabis, even on a casual or recreational basis, can cause huge damage to people and communities.
“The facts are that illegal drugs can kill, they ruin lives, and they fund organised crime gangs who are responsible for intimidation and violence within our communities. We want people to consider when they hand over their money to a drug dealer, where that money goes and what it’s used for; that it’s not being invested for the good of the community.
“Today’s seizure is another step in our ongoing commitment to preventing dangerous drugs from ending up in local communities and also frustrating the criminal activities of paramilitaries living within them.
“Removing these illegal substances from our streets today is an important step in making Northern Ireland a hostile environment for those involved in drug dealing within our communities. We will continue to work hard to identify them, arrest them and bring them before the courts.”
The officer went on to appeal to anyone with information about the sale and supply of illegal drugs or those involved in paramilitarism to contact them on 101.
She added: “I would like to thank all those people who have come forward to police with this information to date.”