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Stella the sniffer dog helps to uncover €300,000 drugs haul

A SNIFFER dog named Stella has been hailed a canine hero after her nose helped to detect a cannabis haul worth €300,000.

Stella was instrumental in the discovery at An Post's national parcel centre in Portlaoise, Co Laois.

Officers were involved in "profiling" of the parcels going through the centre.

When Stella was instructed to inspect one item of mail, she sat down, indicating that the parcel was likely to contain drugs.

When Customs officers opened it, they discovered 15kg of herbal cannabis.

The box, which had been sent from West Africa, was described on the manifest as "food and spices" and was destined for an address in north Dublin.

Investigations by the gardai and Customs officials into the haul are continuing.

There have been 57 detections of drugs in the Portlaoise mail centre this year, comprising more than 440kg with a street value of more than €3.6m.

The majority of the finds - more than 80pc - have been made up of herbal cannabis with the remainder including Khat and amphetamine-based drugs.

Khat, which is big business in places such as Kenya, is grown and sold legally in much of eastern Africa where chewing the plant is a centuries-old social custom. It provides a stimulant effect.

An Post said that all illegal substances, materials and items discovered in the post centres are a matter for Customs and the gardai.

An Post has four mails centres, in Dublin, Portlaoise, Athlone and Cork. The Portlaoise centre is also the national parcel hub, and all parcels coming into Ireland from abroad are processed through there.

There is a Customs presence, including sniffer dogs, at the hub 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

An Post handles more than 2.5 million items of mail on a regular working day.