Brazen drug dealers sending cannabis by post, detective warns
Brazen drug dealers are increasingly using the post to send huge of consignments of cannabis into Northern Ireland, a police detective has warned.
Criminals are turning to standard mail services in the hope their illicit packages go undetected among the millions of other deliveries dispatched to the region, Detective Inspector Pete Mullan said.
Mr Mullan said he believed the method was becoming more commonplace because dealers considered it less risky than smuggling drugs in person via sea routes.
He said recent intercepts by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, working in conjunction with the UK Border Force, included a parcel containing £60,000 (€67,000) worth of herbal cannabis destined for an address in Belfast.
When police raided the property the package was addressed to, it emerged it had recently been vacated by the previous occupant. A link to the current tenants was ruled out.
While detectives continue to establish who the drugs were destined for in that specific case, Mr Mullan said that in general terms it was common for dealers to switch between rented properties for short periods to receive shipments and then move on.
"The drugs come from the rest of the UK posted into Northern Ireland and from overseas as well, it's a common method of dealers getting delivery of drugs," he said.
"It's something we are seeing more and more."
He added: "I think they see it as a low risk option."
Mr Mullan said dealers tried to disguise the drugs.
"We've seen them packaged in children's toys coming through the post," he said.
"It can be put inside anything and sent in that way, it can be packaged as something else completely - numerous ways."
Mr Mullan said cannabis remained the most common drug in circulation in Northern Ireland.
Official crime statistics paint a mixed picture. There have been more overall seizures of cannabis in the last 12 months - 4,618 compared to 4,375 - but the volume seized has decreased - 145kg from 366kg in 2016.
The senior PSNI detective urged users to think before they buy drugs, highlighting that the proceeds were funding organised crime gangs.
"People do need to think about where their money is going," said Mr Mullan.
"It's not just something they are doing for themselves, it has a far wider impact on the health system, on other individuals and communities and it allows organised crime to flourish."