Man arrested as police seize 57 puppies in Belfast
The dogs were of assorted breeds.
The PSNI have arrested a man following the investigation of suspected illegal importation of animals into Northern Ireland, after 57 puppies, three adult dogs and a cat were seized in Belfast.
The animals are currently receiving veterinary care. Breeds included golden retrievers, cockapoos, miniature terriers, French bull dogs, cocker spaniels, dachshunds and roan spaniels.
In a statement, PSNI detective inspector Conor Sweeney said: "The male was arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including fraud by false representation and possession of articles for use in fraud.
"A quantity of cash was also seized."
Mr Sweeney later added: "We suspect many of the dogs had been illegally imported into Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland for onward sale within England and Scotland.
"Police are absolutely committed to tackling the smuggling of illegal commodities through Northern Ireland’s ports.
"Most recent seizures by the Organised Crime Unit have been in relation to illegal drugs.
“However, as this operation has shown, drugs are not the only items being traded illegally. Smuggling is often conducted by sophisticated cross-border organised criminal groups. Such groups will not discriminate when it comes to the commodity being smuggled – should that be drugs, cigarettes, people, or in this case, animals."
He continued: "Those involved in puppy smuggling do not care about the horrendous impact this type of criminal activity can have both on the animals and on the victims who innocently buy them as family pets."
The inspector appealed for anyone who may have information about illegal activity to contact the PSNI on 101.