A total of four men arrested in connection with the seizure of approximately €2.8m worth of cocaine stashed among a consignment of fish boxes at Rosslare Europort have been released without charge, gardaí have confirmed. The investigation into the incident, however, is ongoing and a file is to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The huge seizure was made in the early hours of Thursday morning, when a man aged in his 20s, well-known to local officers for his role in organised crime, was arrested after he allegedly arrived to collect the trailer containing the concealed cocaine, which had arrived in on a ferry from Dunkirk. The drugs were detected earlier that day by customs officers working at the Europort when they became suspicious and searched an unaccompanied freight trailer. Gardaí were notified of the situation and set up a special surveillance operation, during the course of which the suspect arrived in a truck tractor unit, allegedly to collect the trailer, which contained the cocaine packed in “very large slabs”.
Three other arrests were subsequently made, one of whom is reputed to have strong connections to Rosslare Europort. It is understood that the men are all local to Wexford, although the initial man arrested has ties to Northern Ireland, despite being from the New Ross district. He’s understood to have worked in haulage and international driving for a number of years.
A garda source added that in fact, the initial suspect arrested “was caught with a significant amount of cash at Rosslare Europort which he was attempting to leave the jurisdiction with in a truck earlier this year and this cash was seized from him on that occasion”.
All were detained under Section 2 of the drug trafficking act and a number of follow-up searches were conducted at locations across Co Wexford in the following days, although a garda source confirmed that no further drugs were uncovered.
Local gardaí conceded that it was “unusual” for there to be such a local Wexford involvement in an enterprise of this size and they say they have not yet established which one of the major criminal gangs are behind the haul. An early theory, however, is that a number of different Irish criminal groupings may have “clubbed together” to import the cocaine from mainland Europe before it was distributed across the country.
The garda source added that some, but not all of the men arrested were known to gardaí and that it could be some time before anybody appears before the court in relation to the seizure.
There has been a number of major drug busts at Rosslare Europort this year including in August when Revenue officers seized 88kg of heroin valued at over €12 million.
The drugs were found concealed in plant machinery which came in on a ferry from continental Europe and it is regarded as the biggest heroin seizure in the history of the State.
With the port becoming increasingly busy with new routes in recent times, there have been some major successes against organised crime gangs in 2021 including €181,000 in cash seized in June, €800,000 worth of cannabis discovered in February as well as €400,000 in cash seized in October of last year.