Two men arrested as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into the seizure of 20 kilos of cocaine in Belfast on Monday have been charged.

Drug packages laid outUpdate

The driver of the van which contained the drugs, Laethian McCalla, 39, of Arps Road, Codsall, Staffordshire, was arrested at Belfast port. After being questioned by NCA officers he was charged with possession with intent to supply drugs. 

McCalla has today [24 February] appeared before Laganside Magistrates Court in Belfast where he was remanded in custody until his next appearance at the same court on 24 March.

The second man detained, Anthony Terry, 46, of Crawford Road, Wolverhampton has been charged with possessing an improperly obtained ID document, and conspiracy to supply cocaine. He is due to appear before Wolverhampton Magistrates tomorrow [25 February].

A third man has also been arrested. The 43-year-old from Wolverhampton was detained by NCA officers in Digbeth, Birmingham, before being questioned and released on bail pending further enquiries.

The cocaine seizure is believed to be one of the biggest in Northern Ireland in recent years. The operation to make the seizure was supported by Belfast Harbour Police, Border Force and the PSNI.

24 February 2021

Cocaine worth an estimated £1.6 million has been seized in Northern Ireland, as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into drug supply.

The 20-kilo haul was discovered hidden inside an empty fuel tank being transported in a van which had just arrived into Belfast port on a ferry from Birkenhead on Monday 22 February.

The vehicle’s driver, a 39-year-old man from Wolverhampton, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to supply controlled drugs and is now being questioned by NCA investigators.

Officers using special equipment had to be brought in to recover the drugs, in an operation which took several hours and also involved Belfast Harbour Police, Border Force and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Following the seizure a second man, aged 46, was arrested on suspicion of the same offences in Wolverhampton as part of the same investigation.

NCA branch commander Adam Warnock said:

“This was a significant seizure of cocaine, one of the biggest to be made by law enforcement in Northern Ireland in recent years.

“The loss of the profit that would have been made from it will be felt by the criminal groups involved in drug supply in the province.

“Those groups are also involved in exploitation and violence in our communities, so taking away these drugs will prevent them from reinvesting in further criminal activity.

“Working with our partners across law enforcement we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle organised crime networks and protect the public.”

Detective Chief Superintendent John McVea, from the PSNI, said:

“We are delighted with the success of our Law Enforcement colleagues. More importantly we are pleased with the positive impact this will have for individuals and communities within Northern Ireland in terms of disrupting the distribution and supply of Class A drugs and bringing those harmful offenders to justice.

“Anything we can do to support a collective effort across a range of partners, as was seen in yesterday’s operation, is always welcomed, as well as the fact that cocaine with an estimated street value of over £1.6 million has been taken out of the control of criminals.”