Gardaí believe €58m cocaine haul washed up in Denmark may have been destined for Cork

Almost 850kg of drug found on beaches in north of country after members of public made first discovery

A Danish senior police investigator described the find as 'remarkable'. Photograph: Claus Bech

Gardaí are keeping an open mind on whether a huge consignment of cocaine washed up in Denmark at the weekend may be linked to a suspected drug trafficking operation in west Cork. There, an international organised crime group failed to collect a shipment of drugs from South America.

Irish investigators are believed to be liaising with their Danish counterparts following the discovery of over 840kg of cocaine with a potential street value of over €58 million along a number of beaches near the town of Sjællands Odde on the northwestern tip of the main island of Zealand.

According to Danish senior police investigator, Kim Løvkvist, the consignment is the largest he has come across being washed up on the Danish shore. He described the find as “remarkable” when speaking to the Danish independent news agency, Ritzaus Bureau.

The first discovery of the drugs was made on Saturday afternoon when several sports holdall bags attached to life jackets and containing drugs were found washed up on a beach near Sjællands Odde, a busy port with a ferry service to Denmark’s second city, Aarhus on Jutland.


The drugs were found by members of the public walking the beach, and they notified police. Further bags containing more drugs were found washed up in nearby locations including Sejerø bay and Sejerø island with the amount now totalling 840 kilos of the drug.

Mr Løvkvist revealed police have intensified their search of the area, using boats, drone and military aircraft before adding: “At the current time we have no knowledge of where the drugs came from, how long they’ve been in the water, or even if it was meant for someone in Denmark.”

A major search operation is currently ongoing in the Kattegat sea with the search being co-ordinated from a Command and Control Centre aboard the Danish frigate HDMS Absalon. Three other smaller ships from the Danish Naval Service are also assisting in the search north of Zealand.

It is believed gardaí in west Cork are making contact with their Danish counterparts through Europol as they believe it is possible the Danish drugs may have been the consignment that were due to be collected off the Cork coast by a transnational drug smuggling gang arrested in Cork.

Gardaí have established that a six-man landing party left Tragumna slip near Skibbereen in the early hours of Tuesday morning, March 12th in a ten metre long Rigid Inflatable Boat (Rib) powered by three 300 horsepower engines to rendezvous somewhere off the coast with a mother ship carrying the drugs.

Garda technical experts have examined a number of electronic items seized by gardaí including satellite phones, mobile phones and GPS locators. believe they have established the route the men in the Rib took to meet the mother ship.

According to one source, gardaí believe the gang went out over 150km, almost to Land’s End in Cornwall, but for some reason either due to a miscommunication, bad weather or a mechanical problem, they failed to link up with the mother ship despite spending almost 48 hours at sea.

A mariner said : “The fact that they went over as far as Land’s End suggests they missed their initial link up with the mother ship closer to west Cork and of course, a big cargo ship like that couldn’t stop as it would show up on marine traffic and arouse suspicions.

Gardaí haven’t ruled out the possibility that the mother ship may have dropped its haul of cocaine overboard with marker buoys somewhere between west Cork and Cornwall but believe it is more likely that it continued on its route possibly up the English Channel to northern Europe.

Another source said the fact the Danish drugs were found in holdalls suggests the plan was to hand them over in a transfer between two vessels rather than drop them off at sea in which case they would have been shrink-wrapped in plastic to protect them from the water.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times