American woman who brought cannabis worth €260,000 into Dublin Airport thought it was legal here, court hears

Tamia Forbes (23) has been jailed for acting as a ‘mule’ transporting the drugs in a suitcase

The woman was arrested after arriving into Dublin Airport on flights from the US via Zurich when her luggage was found to contain 27 vacuum packs of cannabis valued at €260,000.

A “naïve” young American woman who brought over a quarter of a million euro of cannabis on a flight into Dublin Airport claimed she thought it was legal here, a court has heard.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Tamia Forbes (23) was acting as a “mule” transporting a locked suitcase carrying the drugs after falling into financial difficulties.

Forbes, of Calvert Street, Charlotte, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at Dublin Airport, on December 23rd, 2023. She has no previous convictions.

Passing sentence on Monday, Judge Pauline Codd said although Forbes was a mule, there had to be a deterrent to turning a blind eye to the level of drugs one was bringing into the country.


Judge Codd said the court had to be mindful of the appalling effect the drugs have on addicts and that the nefarious trade leads to other criminality in society.

The judge set a headline sentence of eight years’ imprisonment.

She noted there was substantial mitigation including her youth, guilty pleas, testimonials and the positive aspect of her character. She said she was a “foolish girl who had made foolish choices”.

She said in the circumstances of the case it would be unfair to apply the presumptive mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years applicable to this offence.

Judge Codd imposed a sentence of five years and suspended the final two and half years on conditions including that Forbes undertake to leave the jurisdiction within three weeks of her release.

Garda Alex Murphy told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that Forbes was arrested after arriving into Dublin Airport on flights from the US via Zurich. She was stopped at customs and her luggage was found to contain 27 vacuum packs of cannabis valued at €260,000.

She said she had been asked to bring the drugs into Ireland and that she believed it was legal here.

She told the officer she had money difficulties. The suitcase was locked and she had no access.

Gda Murphy agreed with Patrick Gageby SC, defending, that Forbes was somewhat naïve during her cautioned interview and gave an account of having been shot the previous June.

Mr Gageby handed in several letters of recommendation from Forbes’s guardian and family, as well as from Forbes herself. The letters spoke to her positive attitude, hard work and responsibility.

Counsel said Forbes’s mother had addiction issues and her father was in prison so she had to step in as an effective parent to her younger sibling at a young age. She had been working as a hairdresser, but was unemployed after being shot.

Mr Gageby said she was a young woman with an unfortunate background but she had risen through that to be a surrogate mother to her sister. He said there were certain naïve traits evident in her conduct and she had issues with the use and abuse of cannabis.

He said she has been of very good conduct in prison, entered a guilty plea and is conscious of the wrong she has done.

Counsel asked the court to take into account she was in this country in custody far from her friends and family. He said she was an intelligent young person but did not have great experience of the rest of the world apart from the small world she lived in.