Friday 18 October 2019

Gardaí raid 'Polish poitín' ring targeting homeless and young people

Poitín seized in Cork in a five-gallon drum
Poitín seized in Cork in a five-gallon drum

Ralph Riegel

Gardaí raided a suspected poitín operation where the potentially lethal cut-price 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.

The 36-year-old was identified followed a Garda sting operation.

During the search of the man's property - on the northside of Cork city - a quantity of homemade alcohol, hundreds of bottles for packaging, up to €5,000 in cash and a baton were seized.

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

Detective Inspector Dan Coholane said the raid involved gardaí, Customs and Excise officers, Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) officials and HSE personnel.

"In June of this year, gardaí became aware of people consuming very potent alcohol, particularly vulnerable members of society and the homeless," he said.

"It was being referred to as 'Russian Poitín' or 'Polish Poitín' on the streets."

FSAI and HSE officials will now 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.

The 'moonshine' involved is distilled to a Polish recipe, which results in the alcohol being exceptionally strong.

Many who consumed the alcohol fell unconscious within minutes.

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

Gardaí fear that up to €200,000 per year may have been involved in street sales of the liquor.

The raid followed a lengthy Garda surveillance operation.

Detectives were shocked to realise the cut-price but potentially lethal alcohol was being sold by the bottle in areas close to 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 to hospitals over recent weeks.

It is feared that as much as 250 litres of the alcohol was being sold weekly across Cork.

To avoid suspicion, the bottles were stamped with 'Irish Spring Water' labels.

Irish Independent

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