Three men have today been sentenced at Derry Crown Court for their involvement in the supply of illegal drugs into and across Northern Ireland.

Desmond Lindsay (52) from Belfast; Francis McKeown (38) from Belfast, and a 42 year old man from Derry who can’t be named due to reporting restrictions were sentenced following a major year-long PSNI proactive investigation which culminated in the seizure of approximately £2.2 million worth of Class A and Class B drugs.

Today’s sentencings are the last of those involved in this year-long operation, which spanned the period September 2013 to August 2014. In all, 27 people have been convicted and sentenced.

Desmond Lindsay, with an address at Cardigan Drive in Belfast, recently pleaded guilty to four offences of aiding and abetting the possession of Class A and B drugs, namely cocaine and herbal cannabis with intent to supply. These offences relate to his role in the supply of £618,200 worth of cannabis which was seized at Seven Mile Straight, Antrim on 19 September 2013; the seizure of £944,820 worth of cocaine seized from a vehicle on the Westlink, Belfast, on 5 December, 2013; £372,000 worth of cocaine at Hillsborough on 22 May, 2014; and £125,000 worth of cocaine and cannabis at Beechwood Crescent, Londonderry on 13 June, 2014. He was sentenced today to 14 months imprisonment with half to be served on licence.

Francis McKeown with an address at Fortwilliam Parade in Belfast recently pleaded guilty to one offence of aiding and abetting the possession of Class A controlled drugs namely cocaine with intent to supply.

This offence related to his part in the supply of £372,000 worth of cocaine which was seized at Hillsborough on 22 May, 2014.

McKeown was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment with half to be served on licence.

The 42 year old man pleaded guilty to an offence of encouraging or assisting the commission of on offence. This relates to his involvement of the supply of £125,000 worth of cocaine and cannabis which was seized at Beechwood Crescent, Derry on 13 June, 2014. He was sentenced today to 9 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years.

Detective Inspector Tom McClure said: “This complex proactive investigation has resulted in the conviction and sentencing of all 27 persons involved in this criminal network.

A substantial amount of drugs have been taken off the streets as a result of this and kept out of communities where they cause harm to individuals and bring nothing but misery to families.

The community can be reassured we will robustly pursue those involved in serious drugs criminality. Anyone involved in the supply of drugs, or tempted to become involved are warned, if caught, they face the prospect of time in a prison cell. We will continue in our efforts to make Northern Ireland a safer place to live and work by proactively investigating and arresting people involved in serious criminality.

I want to pay tribute to colleagues in the National Crime Agency, An Garda Siochana and Greater Manchester Police for their assistance during this operation.

There is no place in our society for individuals who are only interested in making money for their own personal gain at the expense of others. They do not care that their actions could end up killing people.

I would ask anyone who has any information about the use or supply of illegal drugs to contact police on the non-emergency number 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.

A financial investigation is ongoing to ensure those involved do not benefit from their criminality."

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