Northern Ireland

Largest ever cocaine seizure for PSNI after £10m worth of drugs found in south Armagh

Newry, Mourne & Down District Commander Superintendent Norman Haslett and Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Hill speak to the media on Friday after police seized £10m worth of cocaine in south Armagh. Picture, Pacemaker. (Colm Leneghan-Pacemaker)

THE largest ever seizure of cocaine by the PSNI has been seized in south Armagh, with an estimated £10m worth of suspected cocaine found in a lorry containing meat products.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Commander Superintendent Norman Haslett said that Slieve Gullion Neighbourhood Policing Team officers had been on patrol in the Jonesborough are on Monday evening when they stopped a suspicious lorry.

“A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed a large quantity of suspected cocaine concealed within boxes containing frozen meat products, worth an estimated street value of £10m,” he said.

“A man, aged in his 30s, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of a number of driving-related offences.

“He has since been released on police bail to allow for further enquiries as the investigation continues.

“This is the largest seizure of suspected cocaine in Northern Ireland by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”

He added that the sophistication of the concealment method as well as the sheer quantity of the drugs indicated the scale of criminality involved.

“I believe that this significant quantity of drugs would have been distributed and sold in local communities across Northern Ireland bringing untold harm,” he said.

£10m worth of suspected cocaine was found concealed in meat products, with PSNI officers stopping a lorry in south Armagh on Monday. Picture, PSNI.

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“Organised crime groups involved in this activity profit hugely from the sale of these harmful drugs and have no care for the destruction and harm they cause to people’s lives.

“This is an example of effective community based Neighbourhood policing at its best. As District Commander I am incredibly proud of my team who have removed a very significant amount of illegal and harmful drugs from our streets.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Hill said that organised crime branch had now commenced “a robust investigation.”

“The investigation is at an early stage and we making a specific appeal to anyone who noticed a maroon-coloured Iveco Eurocargo lorry with the registration number LK08 LHO travelling within the South Armagh area, particularly in the wider Jonesborough and Keady areas to make contact with police.

“Please review any dash-cam or CCTV footage that you think you may have of this vehicle – this information could help our investigation greatly.”

A lorry seized by police on Monday in south Armagh which contained £10m worth of suspected cocaine hidden in meat products. Picture, PSNI.

He said that the PSNI’s Operation Dealbreaker was actively committed to removing drugs from the street, and that proactive searches would continue. “Anyone tempted to become involved in illegal drugs should be under no illusion; we will seek to identify them, arrest them and place them before the courts,” he said.

“We will robustly investigate this seizure and enquiries are ongoing to identify those involved in facilitating and organising this importation. “The Police Service is seizing more drugs and arresting more people for drugs offences, with a 10% increase on both arrests and seizures across the Police Service in the last year.”

Anyone with information about suspected drug-dealing in their area is also asked to call 101, or pass on information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.