Friday 18 October 2019

Suspected poteen operation that was selling potentially fatal alcohol to homeless people raided by gardai

Cash was seized during the raid
Cash was seized during the raid
Packaging equipment was found by gardai

Ralph Riegel

GARDAÍ have raided a suspected poteen operation in Cork where the potentially lethal booze was being sold on the streets to the homeless and youngsters.

A man is being questioned over the production, distribution and sale of illegal alcohol across Cork city and county.

The 36 year old was identified followed a garda 'sting' operation in Cork city.

During the search of the man's property - located on the northside of Cork city - a quantity of homemade alcohol, hundreds of bottles for packaging, a quantity of cash, and a baton were seized.

Packaging equipment was found by gardai
Packaging equipment was found by gardai

However, the actual still is believed to located elsewhere and is now the focus of an ongoing garda search.

The raid involved Gardaí, Customs & Excise officers, Food Safety Authority of Ireland officials and Health Service Executive personnel.

FSAI and HSE officials will investigate with a view to a prosecution from a public health concern as there were no quality or safety controls on the alcohol involved.

No arrests have so far been made and the investigation is ongoing.

It is understood the 'moonshine' involved is distilled to a Polish recipe which results in the alcohol being of exceptionally strong potency.

The booze - nicknamed 'Polish Poteen' - was so strong that many who consumed it fell unconscious within minutes.

It was being sold for between €10 and €13 per 500ml bottle.

The operation followed lengthy surveillance after Gardaí became increasingly concerned about the supply of illegal alcohol across Cork city and towns.

Detectives were shocked to realise the cut-price but potentially lethal alcohol was being sold by the bottle in areas close to both churches, schools and even Cork railway station.

It was being supplied to the homeless, youngsters and vulnerable foreign nationals - with medical personnel noting an alarming increase in alcohol-related admissions over recent weeks.

In one case, an alley beside a city centre church was a rendezvous point for people who wanted to buy the booze.

It is feared that as much as 250 litres of the alcohol was being sold weekly across Cork city - either by the case, one litre bottle or even half litre bottle.

To avoid suspicion, the bottles were stamped with 'Irish Spring Water' to make the clear alcohol appear innocuous.

Caitríona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners warned RedFM that the illegal booze was wreaking havoc, particularly amongst the very young and the homeless.

"We were aware of it - people had told us and we were seeing the way it ravaged people for ourselves," she said.

"It changed people - they became a shell of their former selves. This stuff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Caitríona said the effect of the alcohol on the vulnerable was shocking to witness.

"This stuff will kill people eventually. What we were very disturbed about was how young the people were who were drinking this stuff."

"We saw people who were drunk off their heads at 9am in the morning." She paid tribute to the garda operation.

"Well done to the Gardaí - this was a great operation and great work to see someone like this taken off the street," she said.

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