Three men have been arrested following the largest drug seizure ever made by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in Northern Ireland.
An estimated 600 kilos of herbal cannabis was recovered from among a cover load of vegetables from a lorry stopped in Templepatrick, Co Antrim, in the early hours of Wednesday.
The seizure came following an ongoing investigation into drug supply by the NCA in a joint operation with colleagues from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
The drugs are estimated to have a street value of between £10-12 million.
Three men have been arrested, including the lorry driver, on suspicion of conspiring to import controlled drugs.
Those men, aged 62, 37 and 32, are from County Tyrone, County Londonderry and County Armagh.
Two premises were also searched in County Londonderry and County Tyrone.
NCA Belfast branch commander David Cunningham described the seizure as “incredibly significant”.
“A seizure of this size will have a huge impact on the organised crime groups involved in its importation, depriving them of commodity and, most importantly, profit,” he said.
“We are determined to do all we can with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle drug supply routes, not only here in Northern Ireland but across the UK.
“The crime groups involved bring violence and exploitation to our streets and into our communities.
“Our investigation into this seizure continues, and I’d like to thank our colleagues at PSNI for their support.”
Detective Chief Inspector Brian Foster, from PSNI’s Organised Crime Unit, added: “This ongoing NCA-led investigation resulted in a joint operation between police and NCA over the last few days which has uncovered between £10-12 million of herbal cannabis.
“Police Service NI officers discovered this significant find of drugs after stopping and searching the lorry when it entered Northern Ireland.
“This seizure of drugs is significant both in terms of the quantity and also the disruption this will have caused to the organised crime group who would have brought these drugs into our communities to make money for their own selfish gain.
“This successful operation demonstrates the significant benefits of joint working with law enforcement partners and we will continue to work closely with the NCA to disrupt the nefarious activities of organised crime groups operating in Northern Ireland.”