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A 31-year old man suspected of importing class A drugs through his links to a Northern Ireland haulage firm has been arrested.

The National Crime Agency, supported by Police Service of Northern Ireland, arrested the man yesterday morning at Brookfield Avenue, Banbridge.

Officers arrested the man after obtaining evidence from Operation Venetic – the UK’s law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted communications platform EncroChat last year.

It is suspected that the man may have played a role in importing class A drugs into the UK from mainland Europe, through his position at a haulage firm based in Armagh.

His arrest is also linked to a number of other arrests throughout the UK in the last twelve months. All those arrested are suspected to have played a role within the same organised crime group.

The man was taken to Carlisle police station, where he remains for questioning.

NCA Belfast Branch Commander David Cunningham said: “We continue to work with partners to investigate a number of drug importations that can be linked back to hauliers in Northern Ireland.

“We remain committed to pursuing those involved in the trafficking of illicit drugs whose actions fuel violence and exploitation in our communities.

“Investigations into the actions of this suspected OCG continue.”

29 July 2021