DERRY/LONDONDERRY, Northern Ireland Police are continuing their investigations into theIrish National Liberation Army (INLA) and its alleged connections to criminal activity.
Two men in their 40s and a 57-year old woman were arrested in Derry under the Terrorism Act by detectives on Wednesday.
The group have been arrested on suspicion of paramilitary activity in connection to INLA. A number of searches were also carried out in the Galliagh, Buncrana Road and Ballymagroarty areas in relation to INLA criminality including the supply of controlled drugs and illicit cigarettes, money laundering and a recent paramilitary style attack which took place on 14 November in the Ballymagroarty area of the city.
A quantity of Class A and B drugs were seized from the search in the Galliagh area and a 17 year old youth was arrested on suspicion of possession of the drugs with intent to supply. Quantities of suspected Class C Controlled drugs were seized from the searches in the Ballymagroarty and Buncrana Rd areas.Documentation, phones, computers and cash were also seized.
The raids followed an operation a day earlier, when PSNI supported HMRC officers on visits to ten shops in the Derry and Strabane areas where approximately 36,000 illicit cigarettes and 5 kilograms of illicit tobacco were seized. Counterfeit clothing, footwear, DVDs and CDs were also seized from three of the shops.
These operations are further evidence of PSNIs 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, Detective Inspector Tom McClure of the PSNIs Organised Crime Unit said Thursday.
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 HMRCs assistance for yesterdays operation.
I am very concerned that all ten shops visited yesterday in the area were found to have illicit cigarettes on their premises. Retailers who stock and sell illicit cigarettes to the public should 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. I would appeal for anyone with information regarding criminality by paramilitary organisations to contact police on 101. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime, Detective Inspector McClure said.
A 56 year old man was also arrested on Tuesday by HMRC for Fraudulent Evasion of Duty Chargeable On Goods in respect of 19,800 illegal cigarettes seized from one of the shops in the Galliagh area of Derry. He has subsequently been released pending report to the Public Prosecution Service.
"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," Steve Tracey, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said Thursday.