UNDERCOVER gardai, known as 'mockies', have secured convictions of over 3,000 dealers.
Officers posed as addicts in an attempt to identify the source of drug dealing on the country's streets.
The gardai are called 'mockies' to signify street slang for mock junkies.
In the past four years, the mockie squad has been responsible for the arrest of almost 700 individuals, all of whom were described as being lower to mid-level dealers.
The gardai pose as addicts to infiltrate the local drug dealers in a number of towns around the country.
They purchase heroin, cocaine and other class A drugs.
Gardai are required to dress like drug users and dealers on the street.
In some instances, members of the unit have been arrested by their colleagues who didn't believe that they were actually gardai.
The unit has been in existence since the late 1990s and is part of the Garda National Drug Unit (GNDU).
The work of the 'Test Purchase Unit' is among the most dangerous undertaken in the force as they place themselves at the coal front in the drugs scene.
And the gardai are required to move after a year to ensure 'fresh faces' on the streets.
A typical operation involves up to six gardai moving into a town at the request of their local colleagues.
The unit has succeeded in smashing drugs gangs in several rural locations as well as in Dublin city centre but it has been snowed under with requests for assistance.
Gardai first received instruction in the undercover work by Scotland Yard and MI5 and then returned to Ireland to pass on the skills they had learned.
Gangland series Love/Hate cleverly portrayed the role of an undercover garda in the guise of Kieran O'Reilly.
O'Reilly was a real-life garda who was a key member of the drugs squad before he took up a part in the RTE series.
But his appearance on the show sparked controversy leading to garda chiefs transferring him out of the GNDU.