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Saturday 20 September 2014

Gardai seize €64m of drugs in blitz on hundreds of crime gangs

Published 22/07/2014 | 02:30

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A cannabis growhouse discovered by gardai
A cannabis growhouse discovered by gardai

Gardai targeted a total of 269 organised crime gangs last year as specialist units led the crackdown on the mobsters and their associates.

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Their nationwide action against the drug traffickers and other gangsters was backed up by 1,593 intelligence reports.

And between the national drugs unit, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Criminal Assets Bureau, they launched 317 separate operations against their targets.

The anti-crime activities of the force met the strategic goals laid down for An Garda Siochana in 2013 while offences in more than two-thirds of recorded categories fell when compared with the previous year.

Gardai seized 624 firearms for ballistic examination including three submachine guns, two light machine guns, 52 pistols, 50 rifles, 125 shotguns, one assault rifle, 49 air rifles, 177 air pistols, 16 imitation pistols and nine imitation revolvers as well as 56 stun guns, 19 cannisters of CS gas, seven crossbows and seven silencers.

Drug seizures reported to the Forensic Science Laboratory reached a street value of €64,872,695, including €23m worth of cannabis plants, another €18m worth of cannabis herb, diamorphine worth €9m, hauls of ecstasy worth over €3.5m and €3.6m in cocaine finds.

The garda national drugs unit arrested 61 people in connection with trafficking offences while seizing €31.9m worth of controlled drugs.

A total of 73 significant seizures were recorded, including hauls of cocaine, heroin, herbal cannabis, cannabis resin and ecstasy.

Operation Nitrogen, which is the flagship of garda inquiries into cannabis cultivation here, resulted in the seizure of 28,851 cannabis plants from a total of 394 cultivation and/or manufacture incidents, amounting to €23m worth of plants.

Gardai also detected 157 growhouses.

Operation Fiacla, the nationwide drive against gangs involved in burglaries, resulted in a drop of 7pc in crime in that category last year. This equates to 26,115 burglaries recorded in 2013, compared with 28,132 the previous year.

The Criminal Assets Bureau finalised 14 cases in the High Court, which led to €1m being confiscated in proceeds of crime investigations with the money being handed over to the Minister for Public Expenditure.

The bureau also commenced eight new cases, incorporating 27 suspected figures.

It also secured interim orders valued at over €2.7m and interlocutory orders to the value of about €1m. Taxes and interest demanded was €7.2m with about €5.1m collected. Social welfare savings amounted to over €526,000 while €227,000 was recovered.

Five fuel laundries, with the capacity to process 46 million litres a year, were discovered by gardai and customs. Those laundry plants represented a potential loss to the Exchequer of €24.7m.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said last night that the statistics provided further evidence of the work being carried out by the gardai on a daily basis. She said: "They do it all day, every day, and they never know the day they will have a gun turned on them or a car driven at them."

Irish Independent

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