Tuesday 20 March 2018

Thousands of smuggled items linked to drugs feud seized in Irish prisons

Mountjoy Prison in Dublin
Mountjoy Prison in Dublin
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Thousands of smuggled items linked to the ongoing drug wars such as phones, weapons and drugs were seized in Irish prisons in 2015, figures from the Irish Prison Service show.

According to an FOI request by The Irish Times more than 600 phones, 500 weapons, 589 litres of home-made alcohol and 800 quantities of drugs were seized in prisons last year.

The prison services said that despite these seizures, the number of contrabands detected have halved since a dedicated anti-contraband team was introduced in 2008.

The 2015 figures released to The Irish Times show the highest number of phones were seized at Mountjoy Prison in Dublin where 265 were confiscated, with the next highest number (70) seized in the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise.

Almost 150 drugs seizures took place at Wheatfield Prison, while 136 drugs seizures were made at Mountjoy. Wheatfield also saw the highest number of weapons seizures (125) while 120 weapons were seized at Castlerea.

The highest quantity of alcohol seized was at Portlaoise, where authorities recovered 203 litres, considerably more than the 132 litres seized at Cork, which was the next highest quantity. The alcohol is brewed inside prison, using sugar, fruit and mouldy bread.

A spokesperson told The Irish Times it was an “ongoing battle” to deal with the contraband items.

“Everything is fuelled by drugs,” he said. The violence and weapons were linked to drugs feuds, while the mobile phones were also associated with dealing.

In 2011 authorities seized almost 1,300 phones, close to 1,300 weapons and 1,417 quantities of drugs. The number of inmates arrested in prison in relation to contraband has also dropped, from 282 in 2011 to 120 last year.

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