Gardaí and the PSNI investigating a major international drug trafficking network have arrested two men, seized 27 firearms and 20kg of heroin worth over €4m.

The drugs and guns were seized before they were to be handed over to a criminal gang.

Detectives say the organised crime network was being run from Portlaoise prison by Brian Meehan who is currently serving life for the murder of Veronica Guerin.

Two men have been arrested in Belfast and in north Co Dublin and ten searches have been carried out on the east coast as part of Operation Bench.

The operation also involved the Dutch police and Irish and UK Customs along with the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Emergency Response Unit.

Operation Bench has been investigating the activities of a gang trafficking substantial quantities of drugs and firearms for the last four months.

Gardaí and the PSNI believe the arrests have severely damaged a powerful European drugs and gun smuggling network.