Jail for pair who hid €4.8m of cocaine in pineapples
AN Irishman and a German national who first met in a Dutch prison were jailed for eight years yesterday after smuggling €4.8m of cocaine into Ireland hidden in a shipment of pineapples.
Sean O'Donovan (45) and Swedish-based German national Richard Deutschenbaur (56) said they only agreed under duress to get involved in the drug shipment because of a €100,000 debt they owed to South American businessmen after a failed oil venture in Peru.
The men insisted they were in fear of the South Americans.
They were to receive €300,000 for the cocaine shipment, which came into Ireland from Bolivia via the Dutch port of Rotterdam.
It is suspected the drugs were ultimately destined for the European market.
Judge Patrick Moran -- in jailing both men for eight years -- said they had been caught "red handed" by gardai in the warehouse in Bartlemy in north Cork where the cocaine had been moved from Cork Port.
"You got involved in this in an attempt to save your bacon from the financial point of view," Judge Moran said.
The seizure of 68kg of cocaine on October 13, 2011 ranks as one of the largest land-based drug operations in garda and Customs & Excise history.
The seizure was made when gardai searched a shed at Ballinakilla, Bartlemy in north Cork -- 8km outside Fermoy and just off the Midleton road.
The drugs were found hidden in pallets of tinned pineapples.
O'Donovan has an address at Ballinakilla, Bartlemy, Co Cork, and was the owner of the warehouse involved.
Deutschenbaur has an address in Sweden.
Both men pleaded guilty to a single charge of having drugs for sale or supply with a street value greater than €13,000 contrary to Section 15 (A) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (1993).
The men insisted they only got involved in the drugs venture under duress -- and because they were in fear of the South American businessmen who they owed €100,000 to after a failed Peruvian oil venture.
The oil project collapsed amid financing problems following the recession in 2008.
Judge Moran said he did not accept the duress argument -- but agreed that there were exceptional circumstances which meant that a mandatory 10-year prison sentence would not apply.
The court heard that both men met in a Dutch prison 18 years ago where they were serving separate and unrelated sentences.