Two arrests after Paramilitary Crime Task Force searches in Larne and Ballyclare

Two men were arrested today (Tuesday) by Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF) officers after four searches in the Larne and Ballyclare areas.

The operation, assisted by the Police Service’s Tactical Support Group and local district officers, was part of an ongoing PCTF investigation into suspected criminality, including illegal money lending, linked to the South East Antrim UDA.

The men – aged 45 and 40 – were arrested under the Terrorism Act.

Detective Inspector Corrigan said: “Officers today have seized two vehicles – a car and a van. Other items included mobile phones, a quantity of tablets, a luxury watch and paramilitary-associated paraphernalia. We also recovered a significant quantity of cash, and documentation with names and numbers.

Police image of cash recovered during the operation.

“We’re grateful to our PCTF partners – the National Crime Agency and HM Revenue & Customs – for their support. Together, we are committed to disrupting the activities of organised crime groups. These groups use any means, including money lending, to control and exploit vulnerable members of the community – people who are struggling financially.

“The coercion that comes with illegal money lending means that it’s common for victims to feel that they have no-one to turn to. And I’m keen to take this opportunity to ask anyone who is, or has been, a victim to contact police on 101. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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A public awareness campaign ‘Ending the Harm’ focuses on the harm caused by illegal money lending. This campaign is part of the Northern Ireland Executive Programme to tackle paramilitary activity, criminality and organised crime. To find out where victims can go for support, please visit the campaign website www.endingtheharm.com

Police image of balaclavas.