09/10/2001

Police and Customs Officers congratulated

Security Minister and Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force, Jane Kennedy, has paid tribute to the police and customs on their recent success in joint operations to tackle organised crime in Northern Ireland.

Both Crown forces, in joint operations, seized four million duty free cigarettes hidden in a lorry full of Christmas decorations near Dungannon, while in Belfast, 30,000 litres of illegal fuel was intercepted.

The Security Minister said: “As a result of other operations, police seized cannabis resin with a street value of over half a million pounds – the biggest find ever in the north west.

“Also at Belfast International Airport customs seized over 200,000 cigarettes which were abandoned by passengers after a planned search of baggage.

“The police and customs have shown a real determination to tackle head on the scourge of organised criminality in Northern Ireland.

“Although there is no quick fix we continue, by co-operation between Government and these agencies, to counter the threat that organised crime poses to communities and the economy in Northern Ireland.”

The creation of the Organised Crime Task Force was announced by the then Secretary of State Peter Mandelson in September 2000.

Task force members include HM Customs & Excise, National Criminal Intelligence Service, RUC, Criminal Justice Directorate (NIO), Organised and International Crime Directorate (Home Office), Policing and Security Directorate (NIO), and other Government Agencies. (MB)

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