Saturday 16 December 2017

Cocaine worth up to €200m found in record swoop

Cocaine seized by gardai

Ed Carty and Sarah Stack

A MAJOR organised crime gang was dealt a massive blow when cocaine worth anything from €30m to €200m euro was seized.

Two men were arrested over the 350kg (770lb) haul which Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said marked a very significant day for law enforcement.

"We have identified a significant number of players in this operation," he added.

Alan Shatter, Justice Minister, said the raid demonstrated the determination and resourcefulness of gardai and customs to smash trafficking gangs.

"I express my deep appreciation and support for their work on my own behalf, that of the Government, and, in particular, on behalf of communities who have to live with the evil which the deadly trade in illicit drugs causes," the minister said.

"For its part the Government will continue to do all it can, both nationally and internationally, to support law enforcement agencies in achieving successes like today's."

The seizure was carried out as part of a continuing intelligence-led operation targeting organised crime.

For several months gardai and customs officers have been working on the case, with national and local units swooping on residential and business premises.

A 42-year-old man was detained in Tallaght, south Dublin, and a vehicle seized after 50kg (110lbs) of cocaine was discovered.

The second man, 31, was held when a series of follow-up searches were carried out in west Dublin and Kildare where 300kg (661.3lbs) of the drug was seized.

"We believe these are significant people in terms of criminality involvement," said the Garda Commissioner.

"The organised crime gang behind this particular operation is both indigenous and external.

"And it is certainly the case these people lost a considerable amount of their finances in terms of investment they put in to the cargo that were seized today."

The seizure is believed to have a street value of 28m at the lowest level, but depending on purity and how it is mixed with agents, it could be worth up to €200m to dealers.

"Depending on the purity of that, subject to analyses, it is possible multiples of that figures," added the Garda Commissioner.

Mr Callinan said Ireland's organised crime community has very strong links with a number of European and international partners, and that the imported drugs was a culmination of that.

International and European law enforcement agencies are aiming to trace the origin of the cocaine, which was destined for the streets of Ireland.

Revenue Commissioner Liam Irwin said customs officers will work with international partners to locate the origins of the drugs and learn for the future.

"This is hugely significant in terms of the amount and size, the amount taken off the street," he added.

"It the biggest inland seizure of drugs in history of state."

The two men are currently detained at Clondalkin Garda Station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996.

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