TWO men have been arrested in the North Wales area following a foiled suspected bid by Northern Irish organised criminals to import cocaine worth £1 million.

Officers detained five men in total - including three men in the Essex area - and three lorries were seized At the same time.

They are thought to have been involved in the importation of Class A drugs from the continent, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Four men are known to be based in Northern Ireland, the other man is from the north of England. They are aged between 21 and 59.

NCA regional head of investigations Gerry McLean said: "This is a highly significant operation in terms of our activity to target organised crime impacting on Northern Ireland.

"In making these seizures we have both prevented a large quantity of drugs from reaching our streets, and denied criminals an important avenue for smuggling."

Specialist Border Force officers were called in to conduct detailed searches of the heavy goods vehicles following Thursday's seizures.

In one, a complex concealment was located, which once opened was found to contain around 21 kilos of cocaine.

Officers from the NCA and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) carried out searches at a number of properties in Northern Ireland.

The investigation has also been supported throughout by Irish police and Northern Ireland's Organised Crime Task Force.

The five men were questioned by NCA officers and have been released on bail.

Detective Superintendent Rachel Shields, from the PSNI's criminal investigation branch, said: "Our detectives have been working in collaboration with the NCA in relation to this operation for some time.

"These arrests and seizure are significant in terms of the quantity seized, and in terms of the disruption caused to organised criminals.

"We will continue to work closely with and support the NCA in their work to disrupt the nefarious activities of organised crime groups."