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Two dozen for court after undercover operation

A grandfather and two teenagers are among 24 people due in court this week after one of the garda's biggest and most successful under-cover operations against Dublin drug gangs.

Thirty young gardai working undercover as drugs buyers were involved in the six-month-long Operation Trident in Dublin's south inner city that led to the arrest of 27 people earlier this month.

The gardai involved, who are attached to the Garda National Drugs Unit (GNDU) and district drugs units in Dublin, have been praised by garda management for their work, which involved them living incognito in rented apartments for months. They also had to pass themselves off as would-be middle-level dealers, buying drugs in bulk from members of the targeted gang. The operation involved the young officers buying drugs on 70 occasions.

Aside from the charges due this week, three youths aged under 18 are being dealt with by way of the juvenile diversion scheme. The 27 arrests were carried out over a period of 24 hours, with uniformed and armed members of the Emergency Response Unit backing up GNDU and south Dublin detectives.

Sources said the operation was designed to target medium-level to senior figures involved in the distribution of Class A drugs.

The undercover officers were taken into trust by members of the gang, who discussed their drug distribution strategies. The drugs involved are understood to be heroin and crack cocaine which is increasingly available in Dublin and causing concerns for gardai as users develop often violent behaviour.

Under operations ordered by Commissioner Martin Callinan, more young gardai are going undercover across the country as hard drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine spread into the countryside.

The undercover teams are said to have been shocked by the level of heroin addiction and dealing in provincial towns which were not long ago free of hard drugs.

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