THE number of cocaine seizures has increased for the first time since the recession caused demand for the drug to plummet.
But senior officers say it is too early to estimate if the market has stabilised, adding that the increase in seizures is slight and it could drop again.
In contrast, the demand for cannabis has surged as users switch to cheaper products. The big growth area is in herbal cannabis, produced in growhouses.
Garda figures for the first seven months of the year show there was more than 1,250kg of herbal cannabis, seized, compared with 952kg for all of last year.
Officers say the switchover into growhouses in almost every county is largely responsible for the increase in supply.
Cannabis resin, meanwhile, is mainly sourced in Morocco. Resin seizures are also up to over 1,000kg from January to July, compared with 764kg for all of 2010.
For the first seven months of 2011, gardai seized 85kg of cocaine, compared with 110kg for the whole of last year, and its street price has remained at €70 a gram, despite the recession.
Gardai have also been extending undercover street operations against heroin dealers, particularly in the greater Dublin area.
So far this year detectives have arrested 75 suspects, including a major heroin player in south Dublin.
Gardai say dissident republicans are not directly involved in drug trafficking but make their money out of the trade by "taxing" the revenue generated.