Garda seized €115m of illegal drugs last year
Cannabis plants accounted for €44m of seizures and cocaine for €30m, annual Garda report says
The increased drug seizure figures were being driven by the cannabis trade, especially by gangs behind the cultivation of cannabis crops in so-called grow houses, according to a Garda source. Photograph: Eric Luke
The value of illegal drugs seized last year increased to €115.4 million, according to the annual Garda report.
Total drug seizures topped €100 million annually in the economic boom years, but in 2009 fell to €42 million and was lower again in 2010 at €28 million.
Garda sources said that while any change in the value of drugs seized from year to year did not exactly mirror the growth or contraction in the overall drugs trade, the seizure figures were indicative of developments.
“The seizures last year were over the €100 million mark after being lower than half of that a few years back, so that tells us that drugs gangs are back to bringing in very large hauls compared to the past few years,” said one source.
Another said the increased seizure figures were being driven by the cannabis trade, especially by gangs behind the cultivation of cannabis crops in so-called grow houses.
“There’s been no let up in grow houses being found and the grass product [they produce] has really got popular in the past few years,” he said. The report reveals that cannabis plants accounted for €44.4 million of the illegal drugs seized last year. Some €29.7 million worth of cocaine was seized in 2012, more than any other drug type apart from cannabis plants.
Cannabis herb was next, with total seizures valued at €19.9 million, with heroin fourth in the list, with total seizures of €9.2 million.
Ecstasy is also proving popular again with total seizures reaching €1.7 million last year, a reversal of the trends of the past decade when annual seizures were valued in the low tens of thousands of euro in some years.
The report outlined patterns for the seizure of illegal firearms in recent years too. The number of firearms being seized has continued to fall, with steady declines since 2008 combining for a 28 per cent decrease in seizures since then.
The rapid fall in gun crime of up to 50 per cent in some parts of the country since 2007-2008 has been maintained. Gun crime includes possession of a firearm or ammunition and discharging a firearm.
Last year 696 firearms were seized, down 28 per cent on the 971 seized in 2008. There were 166 air rifles among the seizures in 2012, with shotguns accounting for 150 of those and air rifles 97.
The number of pistols seized last year, at 50, was the lowest in the five-years reviewed in the annual report.
Similarly the number of revolvers seized last year, at 28, was the lowest in the five years. However, there were 10 sub-machine guns seized, more than in any year since 2008.
Unrelated to organised crime, the report reveals there were 8,815 missing person reports last year with 51 of those still unaccounted for at the end of the year.
Analysis of road traffic collision data shows most road fatalities occur on Fridays and the least happen on Saturdays. About 50 per cent of fatalities occur between 1pm and 7pm, while the hours between 5am and 7am have the fewest fatalities.