The USPCA have rescued a batch of farmed puppies as part of Operation Delphin.
In a statement the animal charity said: "The USPCA played a key role in an overnight seizure of 27 puppies at Cairnryan port, they were detained by Police Scotland and seized by our colleagues in the Scottish SPCA.
"This action is the latest in the ongoing work of Operation Delphin."
It has been reported that it is believed the puppies were farmed in the Republic of Ireland - and were then transported to Northern Ireland in a small van which was driven onto a late-night ferry on Wednesday.
The statement adds: "Each year many hundreds of vulnerable animals bred in ROI puppy farms are smuggled into the UK market illegally using Northern Ireland ferry routes.
"The animals have now been returned to the republic of Ireland and are currently being cared for by our colleagues in the ISPCA."
Chief Executive of the USPCA, Brendan Mullan, said: "The USPCA investigates a number of serious animal welfare abuses across Northern Ireland and works closely with our partners involved with Operation Delphin to disrupt and deter the highly lucrative criminal trade in puppies.
"USPCA cooperation and intelligence are key to the many successes of Operation Delphin to date.
This charity’s role in the disruption of this cruel trade in vulnerable animals is a drain on both its physical and financial resources however, the successful recovery of these 27 pups provides the reassurance needed to continue the fight.”