Over 80 officers involved in ‘hugely significant’ South East Antrim UDA swoop: Five arrested

More than 80 police officers were involved in a series of police raids in the Carrickfergus area after a “long-running” investigation by the PSNI’s Paramilitary Crime Task Force into the South East Antrim UDA.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 2:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 5:35 pm

Five men have been arrested on suspicion of drug supply offences by officers from the UK-wide National Crime Agency, working alongside the PSNI as part of the paramilitary crime task force.

The National Crime Agency described today’s operation as “hugely significant” and said they believe it will have dealt a blow to “the druge dealing activities” of the South East Antrim UDA.

Six warrants were executed in the Carrickfergus area today as part of the operation.

Image supplied by NCA

A National Crime Agency (NCA) spokesperson said: “Five men, aged 33, 38, 39, 40 and 43, were detained on suspicion of conspiring to supply class A drugs are now being questioned by officers from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF) at Musgrave Police Station.

“The operation formed part of a long-running PCTF investigation into the alleged organised crime activities of the South East Antrim UDA (SEA UDA).

“The arrests relate to the seizure over one kilo of cocaine found following searches of two parked cars and nearby land in the Greenisland area of County Antrim in November 2020.”

NCA Deputy Director of Investigations, Craig Naylor, said: “Today’s activity is the culmination of a major investigation undertaken by the NCA in partnership with our colleagues in the PSNI as part of the PCTF.

Image supplied by NCA

“This operation is hugely significant, and we believe it will have substantially disrupted the drug dealing activities of the South East Antrim UDA. The investigation will continue with the evidence we have retrieved today.

“The SEA UDA have long known to be involved in many forms of organised criminality, doing untold damage to the community and exerting fear in neighbourhoods.

“Working with our partners in the PCTF we are determined to do all we can to bring that to an end.”

Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Head of Criminal Investigations Branch, Detective Chief Superintendent John McVea, said: “Working with our partners in the Paramilitary Crime Task Force, we are committed to continuing to target the organised criminality associated with all paramilitary gangs who exploit their local communities to cause harm and create fear.

Image supplied by NCA

“Today’s search and arrest operation is a significant milestone in an investigation into the drug dealing activities of the South East Antrim UDA. The harm caused by illegal drugs to individuals and communities is evident.

“Drugs cause nothing but destruction and distress, not only to the people who take them, but also to their families who deal with the heartbreaking fall out associated with drugs, including death, spiralling debts and intimidation.

“Criminals who supply illegal drugs don’t care who they harm in the process of making money to line their own pockets and fund other paramilitary activities.

“The PCTF has the resilience and determination to target, disrupt and frustrate those who continue to do the greatest harm to the people living in our communities.”