Several Arrests In Connection With INLA Activity

Three people have been arrested on suspicion of paramilitary activity connected to the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) after a number of searches in L'Derry.

Two men, aged 45 and 60 and a 57-year-old woman were taken to Musgrave Street Police Station for questioning under the Terrorism Act on Wednesday 05 December.

Police searched a number of properties in the Galliagh, Buncrana Road and Ballymagroarty areas in relation to criminality linked to the group, including the supply of controlled drugs, illicit cigarettes and money laundering.

The searches were also in connection with a paramilitary style attack in the Ballymagroarty area of the city on 14 November.

During the search in Galliagh, a quantity of Class A and B drugs were seized and a 17-year-old was subsequently arrested on suspicion of possession with an intent to supply.

Quantities of suspected Class C controlled drugs, along with documentation, phones, computers and cash were recovered from the searches in the Buncrana Road and Ballymagroarty areas.

Detective Inspector Tom McClure of the PSNI’s Organised Crime Unit said: "These operations are further evidence of the PSNI's continuing commitment to tackling Paramilitarism. INLA in Derry and Strabane claim to be protecting their communities from crime however in reality they themselves are heavily involved in a wide range of criminal money-making 'rackets' including extortion, supply of controlled drugs, counterfeit goods and money laundering. As well as taking a cut from alleged local drug dealers (known locally as 'pay-to-stay') they are also supplying controlled drugs themselves.
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"INLA use brutality, threats and fear to exert control in their local communities and they recently carried out a paramilitary style shooting of a man for having a minor altercation with INLA members. We also believe they are heavily involved in the importation and supply of illicit cigarettes into the North West and for this reason we requested HMRC's assistance for yesterday's operation."

The searches followed an earlier operation on Tuesday 04 December when the PSNI supported HMRC officers in visits to ten shops in the Derry and Strabane areas, from which approximately 36,000 illicit cigarettes and 5 kilograms of illicit tobacco were seized.

Counterfeit clothing, footwear, DVDs and CDs were also found at three of the shops.

DI McClure urged the retailers involved to consider their actions and think carefully about the potential implications upon conviction.

"They and customers who knowingly purchase illicit cigarettes should also be aware that they may be indirectly funding INLA terrorism and criminality which brings misery and harm to local communities, all for their own selfish gains. I would like to thank our partners in HMRC for their assistance with this operation.

"We are committed to bringing those involved in the criminality associated with Paramilitarism before the courts and we know that the communities most affected by these parasites support our ongoing efforts."

The PSNI are appealing to anyone with any information about paramilitary organisations to contact police on 101 or alternatively, through independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

In addition, a 56-year-old male was arrested by HMRC on Tuesday 04 for 'Fraudulent Evasion of Duty Chargeable On Goods', in relation to the 19,800 illegal cigarettes seized from one of the shops in the Gallaigh area of the city. He has now been released pending a decision from the Public Prosecution Service.

Steve Tracey, Assistant Director of the HMRC's Fraud Investigation Service said: "Working together in partnership with other enforcement colleagues we can target the criminal gangs who are stealing from the taxpayer, robbing public services and undermining legitimate, honest traders."


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