Northern Ireland

'Skunk' cannabis: Fifth man charged over drugs haul in Northern Ireland

A sum of cash was also seized by police during searches in Northern Ireland Image copyright PSNI
Image caption The Police Service of Northern Ireland has seized cash and more than £800,000 of 'skunk' cannabis in recent days after searches in several locations

A 37-year-old man is due in court later over an international investigation into the supply of 'skunk' cannabis to Northern Ireland.

The man was arrested by police in Birmingham on Wednesday and was brought to Northern Ireland for questioning.

He faces a number of charges involving drug trafficking and money laundering and is to appear before Newtownards Magistrates' Court.

He was among 15 people arrested in the UK and Italy during the investigation.

Four men have already appeared in court charged with similar offences.

The charges follow the seizure of more than £800,000 of 'skunk' cannabis and cash during searches in multiple locations across Northern Ireland in recent days.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland have carried out searches in Belfast, Greenisland, Bangor, Newtownards and Ballywalter.

They have also been co-operating with police in Italy, where officers uncovered a cannabis factory.

It is believed the total value of the 'skunk' seized in Northern Ireland and Italy was £4.25m and was destined for Northern Ireland.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption The PSNI released photos of what they said was a cannabis factory found in Italy as part of the Italian investigation

The four other men who have already been charged - Jian Wen Chen, 29, of Belfast, Jiazhu Cia, 30, of Ballywalter, Yong He, 33, from Belfast and Wei Zou, 32, from Bangor - all appeared in Newtownards Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

The men were among six people, including two women, arrested in Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

The women, aged 29 and 26, have since been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Eight people were also arrested in Italy and remain in custody.