Man arrested after cocaine worth €1.4m seized in Drogheda

Gardaí seize 20kgs of cocaine, cannabis and handguns in a series of searches on Monday

An image released by An Garda showing some of the packages seized in Drogheda on Monday.

An image released by An Garda showing some of the packages seized in Drogheda on Monday.

 

Gardaí investigating a feud in Co Louth have seized three handguns and cocaine valued at €1.4 million.

The drugs and guns, along with a large quantity of ammunition, were found by gardaí working under Operation Stratus which was established last year to investigate escalating gangland activity in Drogheda.

Gardai initially found 20kg of cocaine in a car on an industrial estate in Drogheda and arrested a man. During the course of follow-up searches at properties in the town, cannabis valued at about €25,000 was found.

The firearms were found during searches unrelated to the drug seizures but which were also conducted under Operation Stratus into gangland activity in Drogheda.

Gardaí carried out searches at a property in the centre of Drogheda at about 3.45pm on Monday and found a holdall bag containing three handguns. Magazines with 12 bullets each for the guns were also found as well as additional rounds of ammunition for the firearms.

A man in his late 30s was arrested under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act and wass being questioned about the guns and ammunition at Drogheda Garda station.

The cocaine was discovered when a car driven by a man was stopped by gardaí at the Donore Road Industrial Estate, Drogheda, at about 12.35pm. A search of the vehicle uncovered the 20kg of cocaine and the suspect, who is in his 30s, was detained under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Drug Trafficking Act.

Gardai sources said the amount of cocaine was so large in the context of the drugs trade in Drogheda and the wider north east region that it may have been destined for both sides involved in the feud.

Gardaí suspect the weapons were linked to one of the two feuding gangs, which are based mainly in Drogheda.

Neither of the two men arrested is a significant gangland criminal. Gardai suspect they were couriers holding and transporting the drugs and guns.

While the Drogheda feud began during the summer of 2018 and resulted in more than 70 violent attacks including non fatal shootings, none of the violence proved fatal for more than a year.

However, in August 29-year-old married man Keith Branigan, from Drogheda, was shot dead as he worked on a mobile home on a caravan park in Clogherhead, Co Louth.

Last week married father of three Richard Carberry (39) was shot dead outside his home on Castlemartin Drive, Bettystown, Co Meath.

Carberry was a key member of the same gang Branigan was affiliated to. That group had gained the upper hand over its rivals in the feud for the first 12 months of the conflict.

However, the other faction has become dominant as they have killed two men. Some of their rivals have also come under intense pressure from the Garda as investigations into the feud violence have continued.

There are now grave concerns that the feud has claimed two lives in quick succession and that more murders may occur in the weeks and months ahead.