Wednesday 23 August 2017

Customs drug hauls treble in just a year to €63m

Tom Brady Security Editor

DRUG shipments seized by customs have almost trebled in value in a year, according to statistics due to be published soon.

The figures show officers recovered drugs worth just over €63m in the first 10 months of this year. This compares with €23.6m in the corresponding period last year.

A major factor in the size of this year's hauls was a shipment of cocaine that entered the State through Dublin Port last June and was detected after months of intelligence-led detective work involving customs, gardai and several international agencies.

Ecstasy

The consignment had been concealed in a load labelled as timber. Most of it was seized in a warehouse in Blanchardstown and the rest in follow-up searches in west Dublin and Kildare.

Although it was thought initially to be worth much more, the street value of the 450kg of cocaine was eventually estimated to be €31.5m.

It boosted the street value of drugs detected coming through Dublin Port to more than€40m, while €21m worth was intercepted at Dublin Airport, €1.2m at Waterford and almost €1m at Rosslare Port.

However, the overall number of drug seizures has fallen from 2,724 to 463 so far this year.

Volume-wise, more khat (a chewing drug also known as Arabian tea) than any other drug was seized at Dublin Airport, though there were only two seizures, followed by cannabis resin and herbal cannabis.

In terms of street value, cocaine topped the list, followed by heroin and herbal cannabis.

An analysis of the finds showed a huge decrease in seizures of ecstasy compared with six years ago while cocaine, herbal cannabis and cannabis resin continued to dominate the shipments recovered.

Herbal cannabis was much more prominent this year than last because of a huge increase in its street value.

Meanwhile, customs officers again made use of their powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act this year to make 35 seizures of cash suspected of being derived from criminal acts.

This compares with a total of 31 seizures from January to October last year which were worth €762,548.

Cash seizures this year totalled €852,169, with more than €700,000 confiscated at Dublin Airport and €80,000 at Dublin Port.

From January to October this year customs officers confiscated 91 million illicit cigarettes in 7,000 seizures, compared with 94.8 million in 9,000 seizures last year.

Officials made 1,172 seizures of tobacco weighing 4,032kg compared with 2011's 10-month total of 1,274 seizures weighing 9,986kg.

Irish Independent

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