East Belfast UVF: Two men arrested as part of investigation

A UVF mural in east Belfast
The paramilitary group is involved in dealing drugs and now eight of its leaders have been removed

Two men have been arrested as part of an investigation into criminality linked to the east Belfast Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

The men, aged 20 and 51, were detained following search operations in east Belfast and Newtownards, County Down.

The 51-year-old has been charged with a number of drug offences including possession of a class A drug with intent to supply.

He is set to appear before Belfast Magistrates' Court on 12 December.

The 20-year-old, who was arrested on suspicion of drug and money-laundering offences, has been released on bail to allow for further enquiries.

A "significant quantity" of cocaine, herbal cannabis worth an estimated £15,000 and a quantity of cash were seized during the searches on Tuesday.

Det Insp Maguire said: "We will continue to work with communities and partners to disrupt those involved in criminal activity, and I would appeal to anyone with information or concerns about illegal activity, or anyone with any information that can assist our investigations, to call police."

The east Belfast UVF has, for several years, been associated with involvement in serious criminality, such as drug dealing.

It has long been a priority target for the Police Service of Northern Ireland's (PSNI) paramilitary crime task force.

The arrests come after a move was made to stand down leadership of the group.

Up to eight individuals have been removed from their positions, BBC News NI understands.

The action is said to have been ordered by the paramilitary group's central hierarchy and it was revealed in a statement read at a number of Remembrance Sunday events.