A PSNI search operation carried out against the INLA in Derry on Tuesday netted a haul including guns, drugs and cash.

Detectives from the Organised Crime Unit in tandem with the local PSNI carried out a total of seven searches under the Terrorism Act and described the major operation as being part of “the fight against paramilitary crime.”

As a result police seized a submachine gun and two assault rifles in relation to an investigation into “INLA criminality.”

Police have confirmed that Army Technical Officers attended the scene to examine the three weapons which are believed to have been located in a shed on a building site close to the Glenabbey district of the city.

The police raids, which were supported by HMRC officers also recovered a quantity of Class B drugs, counterfeit clothing, DVDs, around £13,000 in cash, phones, tablets, documentation, in excess of 7,000 illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco.

Speaking after the raids, PSNI District Commander Gordon McAlmont said: “The INLA in Derry and Strabane claim to be protectors of their community, but the reality is that they use violence and intimidation to control and exploit these communities.

“Weapons like the ones seized pose a threat to everyone and anyone who brings guns onto our streets does not care about our community. When a gun is fired there is no guarantee where the bullet could end up or who it could harm and the people of our city have seen the damage and the devastation this can cause.

“Many INLA members are also involved in a range of criminal money-making rackets including the supply of controlled drugs, blackmail, extortion and money laundering.  Despite what they say, it is clear that they do not mind drug dealers operating in the local area– as long as they’re getting their ‘cut’ from the profits.  The INLA are hypocrites allowing those supplying illegal drugs to continue ruining the lives of those with addiction so long as they pay up – and if they don’t they are threatened with severe violence and murder.  Local families suffer at the expense of INLA members lining their pockets.

“Furthermore, the INLA are heavily involved in the supply of counterfeit goods and illicit cigarettes and whilst the supply of these items may seem like victimless crimes, profits made from the sale of these items can help to fund INLA terrorism and criminality which brings misery and harm to the local community,” he said.

In Co Donegal, An Garda Siochana also seized 60,000 illicit cigarettes, a large quantity of hand rolling tobacco, a large quantity of counterfeit clothing, DVDs and cash in a search operation conducted by them.

District Commander Gordon McAlmont continued:“Through working closely with HMRC, An Garda Siochana and other partners, we will continue to tackle paramilitarism.

“We know that the communities most affected by these groups support our ongoing efforts and 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.”

Steve Tracey, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC added: "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 traders."

Two men, aged 44 and 43 were arrested as a result of the raids on Tuesday and were taken for questioning. However, yesterday, the 43-year-old man was released pending further inquiries. Last night, the 44-year-old suspect was still in police custody.

CAPTION: A submachine gun seized during the major search operation in Derry on Tuesday.

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