Trio Jailed Over £1m Drug Bust

Three Co Down men have been jailed following the seizure of cannabis worth £1 million last year.

James McAleese, aged 43, Kevin McPolin, aged 33 and Niall Mallon, 39, were convicted at Newry Crown Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to fraudulently importing and possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply.

McAleese was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, while McPolin was sentenced to two years and six months' imprisonment, half to be served in custody and half on licence. Mallon was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, half of which is to be served in custody and half on licence.

The drugs were found concealed in a large fuel container on a trailer at a Co Down property on 30 March 2018.

Documentation and £1,500 cash was also seized in a follow-up search.

Through collaboration with An Garda Siochana, police were then able to identify where the container containing the drugs had entered the Republic of Ireland. Through further comprehensive investigative work it was established that McAleese was instrumental in organising the container's entry into the Republic of Ireland and its further transportation into Northern Ireland.

Police have welcomed today's sentencing.
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Detective Inspector Chris Millar said: "Through collaboratively working with our colleagues in An Garda Siochana under the banner of the Cross Border Joint Agency Task Force (JATF), we were able to take these drugs out of circulation and identify those involved in the supply chain. By disrupting their activity, this has also meant that many more drugs have not been imported into Northern Ireland over the past year. This demonstrates our continued commitment to both preventing dangerous drugs from ending up in local communities and pursuing those intent on destroying lives through the supply of illicit drugs.

"There continues to be debate within society and some people think that spending money on some cannabis isn't a problem, but this couldn't be further from the truth. I want people to think about where their money is going before they hand over cash for recreational drugs. Any money that you hand over for drugs, no matter how small, goes to fund the misery inflicted in our communities by drug dealers. People who deal drugs don't care about the devastation that addiction causes – their primary concern is with lining their pockets.

"Mallon, McPolin and McAleese are criminals pure and simple; their only aim was to line their own pockets. We will continue to investigate those who profit from the harm caused by illegal drugs. I would appeal to the public to contact police if they have any concerns or information regarding drugs in their area by calling 101."

Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The Cross Border JATF has been crucial in tackling the importation and supply of drugs in both NI and the Republic, with 5.3 million pounds worth of drugs, 3.5 million pounds of assets and 11 firearms seized in the last year. The Task Force comprises the Police Service of Northern Ireland, An Garda Siochana, HM Revenue & Customs, the Revenue Commissioners, the Home Office Immigration Enforcement, the Criminal Assets Bureau, and the National Crime Agency.


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