Newry.ie

A 64 year old man is due to appear before Craigavon Magistrates Court today following his arrest in the Newry area yesterday 2 July, as part of Operation Venetic.

Speaking about the arrest Detective Inspector Richard Thornton said: “The charges follow searches and an arrest in the Newry area earlier today as part of Operation Venetic.  This is one of the most significant investigations into serious and organised criminality conducted by our police service in collaboration with law enforcement partners across Europe and internationally.”

Cash recovered in the operation
Cash recovered in the operation

The PSNI  conducted more than two dozen searches yesterday and made a significant number of arrests and seizures, including hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash in what is the UK's biggest law enforcement operation against serious and organised criminality.


In recent weeks, PSNI carried out 25 searches across Northern Ireland as part of the National Crime Agency-led operation, Operation Venetic, working in collaboration with several other law enforcement partners across Europe and internationally.

Detective Chief Superintendent Andrew Freeburn said Op Venetic is ‘one of the most significant investigations into serious and organised criminality conducted by our police service in collaboration with law enforcement partners across Europe and internationally’.

‘Op Venetic’ targeted organised crime groups operating using encrypted technology in a bid to evade law enforcement. To date, PSNI searches here in Northern Ireland have resulted in the seizure of 15 ‘Encro’ phones and more than £360,000 in cash.

Detective Chief Superintendent Freeburn said: “I’m really proud to tell you about the role that the Police Service of Northern Ireland have played in this.

“We all know that serious and organised criminals pose a significant risk of harm to the people of Northern Ireland. They are responsible for bringing in drugs and firearms into our communities and deal in fear and exploitation which can bring misery to many.

“This has been the largest and most significant law enforcement operation ever mounted in the United Kingdom in the fight against organised crime groups.  It has focused on attacking their use of encrypted communication called Encro devices on which individual members of crime groups co-ordinate their illegal activities.

A vehicle recovered in the operation
A vehicle recovered in the operation



 “The organised crime groups thought that by using encrypted technology they could fly below the radar of law enforcement, however this operation should send a clear message that the combined strength of PSNI working in partnership with our law enforcement partners that no-one is beyond the reach of the law.

“Over the past couple of months, Detectives from our Criminal Investigations Branch have worked tirelessly with our partners in the National Crime Agency and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in reviewing this material and assessing what criminal offences have been committed.”

As well as the Encro phones and cash, suspected Class A and B drugs were seized, including 2.5kgs of suspected cannabis and cocaine. Three high-value vehicles and numerous pieces of documentation, laptops, a number of items of jewellery and designer handbags were also seized. Significantly, PSNI has mitigated over 15 threats to life during the operation.

Detective Chief Superintendent Freeburn said: “We have secured evidence to prosecute a significant number of known criminals who thought they were beyond our reach. In Northern Ireland we have charged five people, four of whom have all been remanded in custody and one on High Court bail. The 44 charges range from conspiracy to commit murder, possession of significant amounts of criminal property, various drugs offences involving Class A and Class B drugs including conspiracy to import and also being concerned in the supply.

“This morning (Thursday, 2nd July) we have also arrested a 64-year-old man in the Newry area. Searches are currently ongoing and so we have seized another high end vehicle so far.

“And there will more to come as we continue to disrupt this criminal network operating here in Northern Ireland who have links to criminals both nationally and internationally.”

 

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