OCTF reveals 235 NI-based organised crime gangs

The latest figures have revealed 235 organised crime gangs are currently operating out of Northern Ireland.

Security Minister, and Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF), Ian Pearson unveiled the statistics as he launched the fourth annual Threat Assessment and Strategy produced by the OCTF.

Out of the 235 gangs, 150 operate at a local or regional level while a further 85 have well-established international links.

Mr Pearson said: "There have been some very encouraging successes over the past year. But levels of organised criminality remain unacceptably high and continue to pose a real and significant threat to our way of life.

"Organised crime corrupts. It undermines the economy and places severe restrictions on the running of normal businesses.

"Both loyalist and republican groups are heavily involved in counterfeiting and tobacco smuggling. Republican groups have also been identified with large scale and highly lucrative fuel smuggling operations, while loyalist paramilitary groups continue to engage in extortion, robbery and the importation and supply of drugs."

Calling for all paramilitary groups to cease such activities, Mr Pearson added: "Only when this happens will we be able to truly build a future based on normality, peace and prosperity, and free from the horrors of terror and criminality."

The creation of the OCTF was announced by the Secretary of State in September 2000.

Each year the OCTF publishes an assessment of the scale and nature of organised crime in Northern Ireland and a strategy for confronting the threat posed by it.

Task Force members include HM Customs and Excise, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Office, Home Office, Inland Revenue, National Criminal Intelligence Service, Assets Recovery Agency and other Government Agencies.


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