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City drug dealing crackdown yields only three charges

A MASSIVE garda crackdown on drug-dealing in Dublin's north inner city has so far yielded only three court appearances despite officers collating more than 3,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour in the O'Connell Street area in less than two months.

Figures released by gardai yesterday show a major effort to clean up the city centre with a special investigation codenamed Operation Spire and led by Supt Sean Ward and Chief Supt Pat Leahy.

But a major problem for officers is the fact that many of the drugs being dealt openly in the area are actually legal.

CONSEQUENCES

More than 8,000 non-controlled tablets have been seized, mainly Zopiclone and Zimovane pills.

Officers have also seized more than €4,000 worth of benzodiazepines, compared with just over €1,000 worth of cannabis and a mere €140 worth of cocaine.

The figures relate to seizures this year between January 27 and last Thursday.

A source said: "The figures show that dealing and use of prescription drugs is a really major issue in Dublin city centre – these drugs are being dealt openly by thugs who know that they won't face severe consequences for their actions.

"But gardai will continue to get in the face of these dealers and will continue to disrupt their activities."

Dealers are opting to trade the prescription drugs so that they can avoid arrest when approached by officers.

Sources have described the medicines as "recession tablets" as they are much cheaper to buy than drugs such as heroin and ecstasy.

A senior source said: "The city has been impacted badly by these substances, but it is a health and policy issue because the gardai are powerless to act.

"People often flag the likes of O'Connell Street and Talbot Street for being drugs blackspots, but what they don't realise is that prescription medicines are far more prevalent than hard drugs."

QUESTIONNAIRE

Earlier this week, the Herald revealed that gardai will begin knocking on every door in Dublin's north inner-city from March 30 in an attempt to reduce crime, while a major crackdown on drug-dealing is to get under way ahead of St Patrick's Day on Monday.

Called Small Area Policing (SAP), it will involve 150 community gardai being allocated a list of streets each.

They will then proceed to call at every residence with a questionnaire about the area. More than 60,000 homes will be visited.

KFOY@HERALD.IE


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