Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 18:33 UK

Dutch police in Irish gang raids

Guns seized
Some of the guns and ammunition seized by Dutch police

Dutch police have arrested three men and a woman as part of an international investigation into an Irish crime gang.

More than 150 guns, including automatic Glock pistols and Steyr submachine guns with silencers, were found in an office building in Amsterdam.

Earlier this week, two men were arrested in Belfast and Dublin by police investigating a drugs network.

A variety of weapons were recovered in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland during raids on Tuesday.

Heroin worth about 3.25m was also seized by Garda officers.

One of the seized pistols - pic courtesy PSNI
New automatic Glock handguns and Steyr machine guns
7,000 rounds of ammunition
Laser pointers for firearms
20,000 euros
Currency-counting machine
Mobile telephones, computers and documents

The National Prosecutor's Office in the Netherlands said on Thursday that three men aged 41, 42, and 53, and a 27-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of possession and sale of illegal firearms.

The operation, involving the PSNI, Gardai and Dutch authorites, was launched last July following a request from PSNI.

Dutch police carried out four raids on Tuesday night, including three in houses - two in Amsterdam and one in the nearby city of Zaandam.

In a statement the National Prosecutor's Office said: "There were reasons to suspect that firearms and hard drugs were being supplied to the criminal organisation in Northern Ireland and that these were coming from the Netherlands."

Officers found dozens of weapons in plastic carrier bags in the boot of a car at business premises in the Oud-West area of Amsterdam.

Seven thousand rounds of ammunition were also seized, along with 20,000 euros and a currency-counting machine.

On Friday the suspects will be brought before the investigating judge in Rotterdam.

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said the gun seizures may have saved lives.

"People will now be alive in the Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and Europe as a result of this and many serious crimes won't be committed," he said.

"This was certainly one of the most significant operations in recent history."

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