Woman and 17 men appear in court on drug charges following massive garda operation
A WOMAN and 17 men have appeared in court in Dublin on charges following operations aimed at tackling the supply of drugs in three counties.
The 18 accused were among 54 people brought to court following a series of arrests under three separate operations in Blanchardstown, Cavan town and Portlaoise.
The accused were arrested on different dates this month and bailed on charges of selling or supplying drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis.
At Blanchardstown District Court, Judge David McHugh remanded the 18 on continuing bail to appear in court again on dates in April.
The defendants, with ages ranging from their teens to their 40s, were all charged with possession of drugs with intent to sell or supply in west Dublin. The charges are under Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Among those charged were Zoe Lakes (34) of Wellview Avenue, Blanchardstown who is accused of possession of heroin for sale or supply on July 2 last year.
Alan Sutcliffe (38) of Whitestown Park, Blanchardstown, is charged with sale or supply of cocaine on October 30, 2015.
Karl McGuirk (31) of Sheephill Avenue, also Blanchardstown, is charged with possession of tablets for sale or supply in three incidents - Alprazolam on July 14 last and Diazepam on May 18 and 22.
Jason Ellis of Milltown Estate, Ashbourne, Co Meath is charged with having Alprazolam tablets for sale or supply on July 7.
Gardai gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution of the 18 defendants after their detention at Blanchardstown and Finglas stations.
The court heard none of the accused replied to the charges when they were put to them.
Most of them are unemployed and all were granted free legal aid following applications by their lawyers, with no objections by the gardai.
Their cases were adjourned for the directions of the DPP to be made available and analysis of the drugs that are alleged to have been seized.
This will determine the value of the drugs alleged and whether the cases can remain at district court level, or if they will have to be sent forward to the circuit court.
None of the accused addressed the court during their brief hearings and none have indicated yet how they intend to plead to the charges.
A 19th defendant is a juvenile and was due to be brought before the Children’s Court.
The arrests were made under Operation Rhea, a garda initiative aimed at tackling the networks that supply drugs in the area.
A similar operation, named Sarto, was conducted in Cavan Town with 19 people due before the local court.
Operation Nero was conducted in Portlaoise and 16 people were to be brought before Portlaoise District Court.