A police chief says the North West is a safer place after the seizure of half-a-million pounds worth of drugs in Portstewart last Friday afternoon.
Detectives from the PSNI's Organised Crime Branch arrested seven men as part of what police described as "a major pro-active operation into organised crime in the North West of Northern Ireland."
On Monday six local men were remanded in custody amid emotional scenes at North Antrim Magistrates' Court.
The defendants were described as members of an organised crime gang after police seized 90,000 ecstasy tablets - the largest haul in Northern Ireland in the last three years - and one kilogramme of amphetamines.
Detective Chief Superintendent Roy McComb, Head of the Organised Crime Branch, said: "This was a substantial seizure of harmful drugs which will make a real difference in protecting the communities in what is a busy student and night-time economy area.
"History has shown the serious risk caused to members of our community by these sustances, and I delighted that my colleagues have been able to plan another major, successful seizure of illegal drugs. The PSNI is committed to tackling Organised Crime Gangs involved in the distribution and supply of dangerous drugs"
"I have no doubt the North West is a safer place as a result of the actions of the PSNI today," he said.
East Derry SDLP Assembly Member, John Dallat, congratulated the PSNI on the successful operation.
Mr Dallat told The Coleraine Times: "Taking this haul of drugs out of circulation will save lives and prevent more young people beginning a journey which is almost certain to end in disaster.
"Those involved in this lucrative trade are a curse on society and the extent of the haul illustrates just how big the market for illegal drugs is particularly in an areas where there are a big number of young people including students.
"The recovery of this consignment of drugs surely sends a message out to the widen community that they can no longer remain quiet about what is happening in their neighbourhoods. They must lift the phone and give information to the police no matter how trivial they think that information is."
Also praising the police, Ulster Unionist East Londonderry MLA, David McClarty, said: "This is fantastic news and to my mind amounts to half a million pounds worth of misery taken off our streets.
"I congratulate the PSNI on both the seizure and the arrests in Portstewart, and would urge members of the community to work with police to make this drugs scourge a thing of the past.
"The good people of Portstewart and surrounding areas will feel confident that sterling work is being done to protect the young people within our communities from those seeking to profit from the misery of drug abuse."
DUP MLA, EAST Londonderry MLA Adrian McQuillan said that any efforts to take drugs of the streets of the borough must be welcomed.
"Once again I would like to commend the police following the weekend seizure. This was a substantial seizure.
"The more drugs they can take off our streets the better."
Ali Crawford, a Coleraine spokesperson for the Ulster Political Research Group, said: "It's great news that these drugs are off the street but it shows the problem we have with drugs in this area.
"Drugs destroy lives and families and lead to criminal activity as users try and fund their habit.
"I'd urge the justice system to get tougher with the drug dealers and not just hand them a slap on the wrists."
The SDLP's Alderman Maura Hickey, congratulating the PSNI, condemned those "who exploit young people for their selfish gain not caring about the terrible damage they do to the lives of young people and indirectly to the lives of their families."
20 October 2010
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90,000 ecstasy tablets seized in £500,00 drugs haul