Three men convicted following the seizure of cannabis with an estimated street value of around £1 million following Cross Border Joint Agency Task Force operation

Detectives from PSNI’s Organised Crime Unit have welcomed the conviction of three men at Newry Crown Court earlier today, Wednesday 18 September, for their involvement in the importation of cannabis with an estimated street value of around one million pounds into Northern Ireland.

James McAleese (43), Kevin McPolin (33) and Niall Mallon (39), all from County Down, pled guilty to fraudulently importing Class B and possession of Class B with intent to supply.

McAleese was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. McPolin was sentenced to two years and six months’ imprisonment, half to be served in custody and half on licence. Mallon was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, half to be served in custody and half on licence.

Detective Inspector Chris Millar said: “I welcome the conviction of Mallon, McPolin and McAleese for drugs offences.

“This success follows the seizure of a significant quantity of cannabis with an estimated street value of around one million pounds which was found concealed inside a large fuel container on a trailer at a property in County Down on 30 March 2018. £1,500 cash and documentation was seized following a further search of a property, also in County Down. By working with An Garda Siochana, they were then able to identify where the container containing the drugs had entered the Republic of Ireland.  Through further comprehensive investigative work it was established that McAleese was instrumental in organising the container’s entry into the Republic of Ireland and its further transportation into Northern Ireland.

“Through collaboratively working with our colleagues in An Garda Siochana under the banner of the Cross Border Joint Agency Task Force (JATF), we were able to take these drugs out of circulation and identify those involved in the supply chain. By disrupting their activity, this has also meant that many more drugs have not been imported into Northern Ireland over the past year. This demonstrates our continued commitment to both preventing dangerous drugs from ending up in local communities and pursuing those intent on destroying lives through the supply of illicit drugs.

“The Cross Border JATF has played a crucial role in tackling the importation and supply of drugs in both jurisdictions. Over the last twelve months, 5.3 million pounds worth of drugs, 3.5 million pounds of assets and 11 firearms have been seized during operations coordinated by the Cross Border JATF. 

“There continues to be debate within society and some people think that spending money on some cannabis isn’t a problem, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I want people to think about where their money is going before they hand over cash for recreational drugs. Any money that you hand over for drugs, no matter how small, goes to fund the misery inflicted in our communities by drug dealers. People who deal drugs don’t care about the devastation that addiction causes – their primary concern is with lining their pockets.  

“Mallon, McPolin and McAleese are criminals pure and simple; their only aim was to line their own pockets. We will continue to investigate those who profit from the harm caused by illegal drugs. I would appeal to the public to contact police if they have any concerns or information regarding drugs in their area by calling 101. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”

GUIDANCE: The cross jurisdictional Joint Agency Task Force (JATF) was established under the Fresh Start Agreement.  The Task Force comprises the Police Service of Northern Ireland, An Garda Siochana, HM Revenue & Customs, the Revenue Commissioners, the Home Office Immigration Enforcement, the Criminal Assets Bureau, and the National Crime Agency.  The JATF sees cross border co-operation across a range of policing areas and is of significant benefit to keeping our communities safe and secure, as well as continuing joint activity on issues which affect our communities such as rural policing and intelligence sharing.