Businessman charged over Ireland’s largest crystal meth seizure loses appeal for bail

Nathan McDonnell (43) charged with possession of drug for sale or supply at Ballyseedy Garden Centre, Tralee

A businessman charged in connection with the largest seizure of crystal meth in the history of the State is to remain in custody after losing a bid to overturn a High Court decision refusing him bail.

Nathan McDonnell (43) from Ballyroe, Tralee, Co Kerry, is charged with possession of more than €13,000 worth of crystal meth for sale or supply contrary to section 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The alleged offence occurred at Ballyseedy Garden Centre, Tralee, between October 27th, 2023, and February 12th this year.

His arrest followed a joint operation by gardaí and Revenue Officers during which 564kg of methamphetamine, or crystal meth, with an estimated value of €32.8 million was seized from a container at Cork Port on February 16 last.


Follow-up searches in Kerry and Cork led to Mr McDonnell’s arrest. The State’s case is that the drugs were imported from Mexico and stored at the accused’s garden centre before being transported to Cork, where they were destined for export to Australia.

Mr McDonnell was denied bail in the High Court in April and he appealed this at the Court of Appeal on Thursday.

Defence counsel Michael Bowman SC said his client, a father of three young children, has ties to Ireland and no connection to any foreign jurisdiction.

He said the accused would offer an independent cash surety of €100,000 and abide by any conditions set by the court, but the three-judge Court of Appeal refused to grant bail due to the high value of the drugs.

Róisín Lacey SC, for the State, said there would be an application for the case to be dealt with in the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

The accused was remanded in custody awaiting the serving of a book of evidence.