Gardaí foil bid to fly drugs and phones into Portlaoise Prison using drone

Man arrested as drone, cocaine, cannabis, mobile phones and chargers seized near jail

Gardaí have foiled an attempt by a criminal gang to deliver a package of drugs, mobile phones and chargers into Portlaoise Prison using a drone.

The drone has been seized along with the items it was being used deliver, which included a consignment of drugs valued at €5,000.

A man in his 20s was arrested on Wednesday afternoon at a location near Portlaoise Prison, the State’s only maximum security jail. It houses dissident republican criminals as well as high risk gangland figures.

Gardaí are searching for a number of others who they believe fled an area close to the prison when they realised the gardai were moving in on them.


A preliminary examination of the items seized shows cocaine, cannabis and crack cocaine were all being loaded onto the drone, along with four mobile phones and chargers, before it was seized.

Gardaí also seized two cars they believe were being used by the gang members as they were about to try and fly the drone onto the prison campus.

“Gardaí have arrested a man in his 20s following the seizure of a drone along with a package containing mobile phones, chargers and quantities of crack cocaine, cocaine and cannabis, with a combined estimated value of €5,000,” Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, said in a statement.

“The discovery was made at St Johns’ Square near Portlaoise Prison as part of an ongoing investigation by the Laois Offaly Divisional Drugs Unit at approximately 4pm on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021.

“The man was arrested at the scene and is currently detained under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996, at Portlaoise Garda Station.”

The suspect can be held for up to seven days without charge and the vehicles seized were set to be retained as evidence after they had been searched.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times