Value of drugs and cash seizures by Garda surges in four months

Confiscation of money from gangs doubles and narcotics seizures accelerate fourfold

Drug crime in the regions is increasing at a significant rate. File photograph: Reuters

Drug crime in the regions is increasing at a significant rate. File photograph: Reuters

 

The value of drugs seized so far this year has increased fourfold and cash confiscated from gangs has doubled as the narcotics trade booms during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Irish Times reported last week that drug crime is at levels not seen since the Celtic Tiger peak of 2008. Moreover, the number of such crimes has increased notably in many parts of regional Ireland.

A man was jailed for 12 years on Wednesday after being caught “red handed” mixing cocaine during a late-night raid by gardaí on a “cocaine factory” in Co Clare last year. Tony McInerney (25) from Ennis was told by Judge Brian O’Callaghan at Ennis District Court he had “inflicted untold harm, destruction and pain” on the local community.

The trade has proven resilient despite pubs and nightclubs – often associated with drug consumption – being closed for most, or all, of the last 15 months.

Fine Gael Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys said on Thursday the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau had seized narcotics valued at €28 million in the first four months of this year, up from €5.7 million in the same period last year. During this period the bureau has confiscated €3.8 million in cash compared to €1.3 million in the corresponding part of 2020.

‘Vital work’

Ms Humphreys welcomed the record level of drugs and cash seizures, saying it was “vital work”. She added that local drugs units in Garda divisions countrywide are also continuing to make to make such confiscations, thus complimenting the bureau work.

Ms Humphreys has taken on the justice portfolio for Helen McEntee as she is on maternity leave,

Drug crime in the regions is increasing at a significant rate, though the Dublin Metropolitan Region West division recorded the largest number of such crimes last year at 3,204, an increase of 48 per cent and by 91 per cent since 2018. The division includes areas covered by Blanchardstown, Clondalkin, Lucan, Finglas, Ballyfermot, Ronanstown, Cabra and Rathcoole Garda stations.

A comparison of narcotics crime countrywide between 2018 and last year reveals large increases in recorded incidence in the regions: in Roscommon-Longford recorded drug crime increased by 96 per cent between 2018 and 2020; Donegal was up 91 per cent; Cavan up 84 per cent; Louth up 86 per cent; Cork city up 62 per cent; Limerick up 40 per cent; Clare up 38 per cent; Mayo up 37 per cent; and Waterford up 35 per cent.