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Last Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Human traffickers 'targeting NI'
More than 18m worth of drugs were seized (picture: PSNI)
More than 18m worth of drugs were seized (picture: PSNI)
Human trafficking is to become a priority for the NI authorities, a new report has said.

There is increasing evidence of the exploitation of migrants who are easy prey for criminals, according to the government.

A trade in lethal crack cocaine and crystal ecstasy has also emerged.

The Organised Crime Task Force said UDA members were still linked to drugs and racketeering, while IRA activity had dropped following leadership orders.

In its annual report and threat assessment published on Monday, the task force said dissident republicans were behind tiger kidnapping, smuggling, robbery, extortion and fuel laundering.

'Seizure is significant'

Security Minister Paul Goggins said evidence of exploitation gangs smuggling migrants into Northern Ireland.

"At our September meeting we will turn our attention to immigration and human trafficking, issues that have risen in our list of priorities in light of recent evidence about these activities in Northern Ireland," he said.

"Urgent work is in hand to ensure that the OCTF has the appropriate measures in place to deal with this threat."

The task force said the seizure of highly addictive crack cocaine in Northern Ireland in January was of concern.

"The seizure is significant as it provides evidence to support the suspicion that there is a viable, if small scale, crack cocaine market in existence in Northern Ireland," it said.

Last year, more than 22m worth of drugs, 3m of fake goods, 37m worth of assets and more than seven million cigarettes were seized or recovered.

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