Guns and drugs worth €5m seized from gang with links to Kinahan
Gardai have seized drugs worth more than €5m on the streets and seized six guns and ammunition following a series of swoops on suspects in two counties.
The operation, masterminded by officers from the national drugs unit, smashed a major trafficking gang linked to Ireland's biggest criminal, Christy Kinahan, who is currently based in Spain.
The massive seizure resulted from months of surveillance and intelligence-gathering by the drugs unit, backed up by other garda squads.
Officers believe the huge consignment had recently arrived in the country.
The haul, which is reckoned to be worth around €5.3m, included 200 kilos of cannabis resin, 150 kilos of herbal cannabis, 96,000 ecstasy tablets and a kilo of a powdered substance that is probably cocaine.
Also seized were six firearms, including a Steyr machine pistol. The six guns were located in special compartments hidden within a number of vehicles that were also seized by the officers.
A large quantity of ammunition was also found. Garda resources were fully stretched as they focused on five locations where parts of the drugs shipment were being handed over to gangs involved in the distribution.
Nine male suspects, comprising five Irish and four eastern Europeans, were detained during the raids. Last night they were being held for questioning at Finglas, Store Street, Blanchardstown, Ballymun and Clondalkin garda stations and can be detained without charge for up to seven days under the drugs trafficking legislation.
Armed officers initially swooped on the gang's main depot at Navan before moving on to another depot in Finglas, followed by two depots in the Dublin area.
Officers told the Irish Independent last night they were satisfied the haul was linked to associates of Kinahan, who has been the subject of a major international police investigation spearheaded by the gardai for the past few years.
"This represents a huge setback to the drug traffickers and has left a significant gap in the drugs trade for the Easter market", one officer said.
Earlier yesterday, Customs officers seized six kilos of herbal cannabis, with a street value of €120,000, after a sniffer dog reacted to a parcel that had been posted from South Africa to an address in north Dublin.
Gardai in Bray also uncovered a haul of cannabis herbs and plants, worth about €37,000, after a planned search of a property at Ballard, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow.
A man in his 50s was arrested and taken to Bray station for questioning. And officers in south Dublin seized drugs worth €28,000 as well as a gun and four vehicles in a search at an industrial unit in the Cookstown estate in Tallaght.
Detective Chief Superintendent John Mc Mahon (GNDU) said "Gardaí have today disrupted and dismantled a major gang which operated drug trafficking into Ireland. An Garda Síochána is relentless in the pursuit of drug traffickers.
"This operation is part of on-going Garda activity to tackle organised crime and take drugs and firearms off our streets. This seizure shows how organised crime gangs from Ireland and abroad are using the profits from the sale of drugs such as cannabis to fund the importation of further drugs and firearms. An Garda Síochána is determined to protect communities from the potentially devastating impact of these drugs and firearms"
"By using analytical and intelligence methods, this operation was highly targeted. It has been in the planning for some time and involved a large number of personnel and man-hours. It also involved close co-operation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and I would like to thank them for their assistance."