Police carried out searches in the Lisburn area as part of a wider investigation into a suspected cannabis factory.
Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Criminal Investigation Branch, assisted by colleagues from Immigration Enforcement, have uncovered a suspected cannabis factory following a planned search of commercial premises in Castlereagh yesterday.
Detective Inspector Pete Mullan said: “When we entered the property in the Gransha Road area we discovered a large quantity of cannabis plants with an estimated street value of around £600,000.
“We also conducted a further six searches in the Dromore, Belfast and Lisburn areas yesterday and seized two suspected firearms and £5000 of cash.”
Six people were arrested as part of the operation for a variety of suspected offences including:
A 35 year old woman was arrested in the south Belfast area yesterday on suspicion of producing Class B drugs, being concerned in production of Class B drugs, conspiracy to produce Class B drugs and assisting unlawful immigration.
A 40 year old man was arrested in the south Belfast area yesterday on suspicion of producing Class B drugs, being concerned in the production of Class B drugs, conspiracy to produce Class B drugs, assisting unlawful immigration, possessing criminal property and dishonestly using electricity.
A 22 year old man was also arrested in the Comber area yesterday on suspicion of possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply, possession of Class B drugs, cultivating cannabis, producing Class B drugs and failing to observe Immigration Act restrictions.
A 53 year old man was arrested in the Belfast area yesterday on suspicion of conspiracy to produce Class B drugs and possession of Class A drugs.
A 60 year old man has been arrested in the South Belfast area today on suspicion of being concerned in production of Class B drugs, production of a Class B controlled drug, conspiracy to produce Class B drugs, possession of a firearm without a certificate, possession of ammunition without a certificate, possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances, possession of ammunition in suspicious circumstances.
And a 61 year old woman was arrested in the south Belfast area today on suspicion of being concerned in production of Class B drugs and conspiracy to produce Class B drugs.
They are currently at Musgrave Police Station where they are helping police with their enquiries.
“Yesterday’s find is further evidence that the PSNI is committed to removing and disrupting the illegal supply of drugs and the harm they cause drugs which organised criminals bring to our communities. Drugs are a blight on our society and cause damage not only to users but to their families and communities, Det Insp Mullan added.
“Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug and the most seized illegal drug in Northern Ireland with 90% of the drug market being casual users. Last week we launched our ‘Think Before You Buy’ initiative to help make people aware that casual drug use also feeds into the coffers of the organised criminal gangs that supply illegal drugs and who use violence and intimidation to strike fear through the heart of 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. Instead, it’s going to merciless organised crime gangs who peddle their ill-gotten gains with no regard for society.
“Yesterday’s find has removed a substantial amount of cannabis which has prevented around £600,000 from getting into the hands of organised criminals and therefore preventing them from bringing harm to our communities.
“We are committed to tackling the issue of drugs and would appeal to the public to speak to us if they have any concerns or information regarding drugs in their area. The number to call is 101.
“Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”
A 22-year-old man was later charged with a number of offences, including cultivating cannabis, possession of Class B drugs and possession of Class B drugs with intent to supply, producing a Class B drug and failing to observe Immigration Act restrictions.
He is expected to appear at Ards Magistrates Court tomorrow morning.
A 53-year-old man arrested in the Antrim area yesterday on suspicion of conspiracy to produce Class B drugs and possession of Class A drugs has been released on bail.