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Lorry driver arrested after £3.5m drugs seizure

AN Irish lorry driver has been arrested in France after the discovery of a huge drugs haul linked to a Munster drugs ring which lost another £1m stash only last week.

The concealed French haul was uncovered in the port of Calais by a Customs surveillance team, believed to have been acting on a tipoff.

The consignment, discovered on Friday, consisted of 200 kilos of cannabis with a street value of £2m as well 150,000 ecstasy tablets worth another £1.5m.

It is understood members of the Customs national drugs team here had targeted the truck driver as a possible courier and Friday's seizure is believed to have followed a team tipoff to their French counterparts.

The man, in his late 30s, has an address in Moyross on Limerick city's northside but is not a native of the area.

Quantities of drugs which originated in Spain and Holland have been coming through the port of Calais via Dover to Ireland and a drug squad officer declared last night: ``This a is a major blow to the drugs barons in Cork and Limerick cities.''

Gardai believe the shipment was co-financed by a major Limerick drugs dealer and two men from Cork including a man in his 30s whom gardai believe hid the cannabis worth £1m seized in a forestry plantation at Nadd near Kanturk on Thursday.

The other major Cork supplier is a former Provisional IRA member in the city who has moved away from republican activities over the past three years.

His partner in the French operation the man whose stash was uncovered by gardai in Nadd is regarded as one of the professional drug operators in Cork, building up an extensive network to supply its north side.

The man, who is married with a family, recently moved into an expensive house outside the city. His brother is one of his main lieutenants, overseeing supply of cannabis and ecstasy.

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Meanwhile, gardai and Customs are understood to be revising security at provincial air and sea ports. Intelligence indicates drug smugglers are using points where surveillance is low-key.

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