Drugs seized in sting valued at over £2m

A major drugs seizure in Northern Ireland and England is estimated to be worth more than £2m.

Police provisionally estimated the value of the cocaine, amphetamine and herbal cannabis recovered on Saturday at just over 1m.

Yesterday they revised their estimate as eight suspects continued to be questioned.

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Nine people were arrested in the police operation; 100,000 cash in sterling and euro notes was also found.

The operation was carried out in the Co Down fishing town of Kilkeel, Belfast and Preston.

Six kilos of cocaine, 22 kilos of amphetamine and 20 kilos of herbal cannabis were found during a search of a lorry in Kilkeel.

Greater Manchester Police and Lancashire Police searched a house in Preston, where one kilo of cocaine, 22 kilos of amphetamine and 20 kilos of herbal cannabis were seized.

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In follow-up searches in greater Belfast, six kilos of amphetamine were seized along with the cash.

Police ruled out paramilitary involvement.

A total of eight searches were carried out in Northern Ireland and five in England.

Five men were arrested in Northern Ireland while three men and one woman were arrested in England.

The three men arrested in England were taken to the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Serious Crime Suite in Co Antrim where they were being questioned yesterday along with the five other suspects.

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The PSNI officer in charge of the operation, Det Supt Essie Adair said: "We are delighted with the amount of drugs which we have seized and the number of arrests which have been made. We believe we have dismantled an organised crime gang which was importing drugs into Northern Ireland."

It is believed the drugs were moved from Holland to the UK and then to Northern Ireland.