Police have warned more and more drug dealers are using ordinary postal services to send large amounts of cannabis into Northern Ireland to avoid checks at ports.

Drug dealers are turning to standard mail services so their illegal shipments go undetected among normal packages.

"The drugs come from the rest of the UK posted into Northern Ireland and from overseas as well, it's a common method of dealers getting delivery of drugs," said Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective inspector Pete Mullan.

"It's something we are seeing more and more. I think they see it as a low risk option."

Mullan said that authorities have found the drugs disguised and hidden inside other objects, including children's toys.

"It can be put inside anything and sent in that way, it can be packaged as something else completely - numerous ways," he said.

Investigators have been stumped by dealers who bounce between rented properties to receive their shipments, The Belfast Telegraph reported.

PSNI and Border Force officials have intercepted several packages, including a £60,000 parcel of herbal cannabis heading towards an address in Belfast. When authorities raided the Belfast home, they found the occupants had already left.

Police in the British province have seized an increasing number of cannabis packages, up from 4,375 seizures to 4,618 in the past 12 months. The Belfast Telegraph noted that the volume seized by authorities has, however, fallen from 366kg to 145kg in the same time period.

Mullan warned that people "need to think about where their money is going". The detective inspector said: "It's not just something they are doing for themselves, it has a far wider impact on the health system, on other individuals and communities and it allows organised crime to flourish."

Cannabis possession can be punished with up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine, The Independent noted. Supply and production can land offenders in jail for up to 14 years.