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Eighth arrest after largest Paramilitary Crime Task Force operation to date
16 Apr 2018


Four men are being questioned on suspicion of involvement in terrorism following a major operation against paramilitary crime in Northern Ireland.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detained a 34-year-old man in the greater Belfast area on Monday (April 16) under terrorism legislation.

Three other suspects arrested on Friday (April 13) are also being questioned over their alleged involvement with the Belfast Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), while a 55-year-old man has been released unconditionally.

A man, 32, and a woman, 22, who were also arrested by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force during the raids have been charged with controlling prostitution and brothel keeping.

An eighth suspect, arrested over alleged trafficking and controlling prostitution offences, has been released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, head of crime operations for the PSNI, said the search and arrest operation was “the largest conducted by the task force to date”.

More than 200 officers from the PSNI were involved in Friday’s raids, supported by colleagues from the National Crime Agency and HMRC.

Twelve properties were searched in relation to criminal activity linked to the Belfast INLA.

The Paramilitary Crime Task Force has carried out more than 190 searches this financial year, leading to 47 arrests.

The unit has seized an estimated £58,000 worth of drugs and £50,000 in cash, as well as four vehicles and illicit tobacco products worth more than £1.2 million.

The arrests were made just days after Northern Ireland’s three largest loyalist paramilitary organisations pledged their full support to “the rule of law”.

Mr Martin said: “There is not and will not be any hiding place for paramilitaries. These criminal gangs destroy people’s lives and harm our communities and we are committed to tackling them head on so that communities and businesses can prosper without any threat or fear.

“Paramilitaries exploit their own communities and others through various types of criminality, including extortion and prostitution, and they are ruthless in their methods including so-called paramilitary style attacks.

“They exploit vulnerability, including younger citizens who can so easily be drawn in. They destroy lives and harm the communities they so often claim to represent.”

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