Kinahan cartel hit in Irish-Dutch drug trafficking inquiry
Ten arrests after hauls of cocaine and cannabis valued at ‘€15m’ found in Meath and Netherlands
Garda at the scene in Ashbourne, Co Meath after a police raid where an estimated multimillion-euro haul of cannabis and cocaine was seized. Photograph:n Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Garda at the scene in Ashbourne, Co Meath. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Some of the drug haul seized by gardaí in Ashbourne in Co Meath.
Ten men from Ireland, Belgium and Holland were being held for questioning on Thursday following a major international policing operation against drug trafficking and money laundering linked to the Kinahan cartel.
The Irish strand of the operation resulted in the seizure of cannabis and cocaine valued at €7 million and the arrests of two men following the discovery at two commercial premises in the Ashbourne area of Co Meath on Wednesday.
In a related operation in the Netherlands, a further eight suspects were detained on Thursday including a man from Dublin and two from Limerick. Also detained were four Dutch nationals and a Belgian.
The international operation was targeting not just drugs trafficking but also the money laundering operation linked to the proceeds of that activity.
More than 160kg of cannabis and cocaine was seized in the Dutch strand of the operation. Gardaí believe the value of the drug hauls in the two countries could be as high as €15 to €20 million.
The Dutch police also seized parcels of cash that had been vacuum packed in a manner similar to money take from the Kinahan gang in Ireland earlier this year. They also took mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices for examination. They believe some of the drug dealing and money laundering involved the use of the virtual Bitcoin currency.
The two men arrested in Co Meath are known to gardaí and linked to the Kinahan drugs gang. They are from Kinsealy and Clonshaugh in Dublin and both in their 30s. They were being detained under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act at Ashbourne Garda station.
The Ashbourne drugs haul involved a number of wrapped 1kg parcels that had been packed into crates. The two premises where the drugs were discovered were sealed off overnight and armed gardaí were put in place to ensure the safety of the evidence. The news that the drugs had been seized was tightly controlled until early on Thursday when the Garda was able to resume work at the two crime scenes.
The Dublin man detained in Holland is originally from the south inner city but has more recently had an address in Knocklyon. He has a lengthy criminal record in Ireland, much of which is linked to the drugs trade. He has also survived an attempt to shoot him dead in Ireland in the past.
Assistant Garda Commissioner John O’Driscoll, who is in charge of Special Crime Operations, said the force believed more than one gang was involved.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan welcomed news of the operation and congratulated the Garda on intercepting such a large quantity of drugs.
Separately, an operation in Dublin - Operation Thistle - targeting street level drug dealers linked to the Kinahan gang resulted in three arrests and the seizure of drugs.
During a search at a house at Kilmainham Bank, Dublin 8, heroin valued at about €25,000 and €6,000 in cash was seized. Three imitation firearms were also found. In a second search in Basin Street in Dublin 8, a small quantity of heroin was found and at Berry’s Court in Dublin 8 some 3.5kg of powder that is believed to be heroin and cocaine was found.