Gardaí seize heroin valued at €2.25m


GARDAÍ HAVE made one of the biggest drug seizures of the year with the discovery of a consignment of heroin valued at an estimated €2.25 million.

The drugs were found during the course of a search in west Dublin. A 37-year-old man, who was at the property when the surprise raid was carried out, was arrested and was still being held for questioning last night.

He is an Irishman who has no known involvement in organised crime. Gardaí are trying to establish details about his background. They are also trying to discover who owns the drugs found at the property.

The search operation was carried out on Sunday evening, but details of the find only emerged publicly yesterday.

Members of the Garda’s drug unit based in Clondalkin Garda station in west Dublin went to a house at Mount Andrew Court in Lucan and searched it as part of a planned intelligence-led operation.

They found 9kg of heroin at the property, with an estimated street value of €2.25 million.

The drugs have been sent for forensic analysis to determine the purity of the haul.

The man arrested at the house was detained under section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act. He was taken for questioning to Clondalkin Garda station, where he was still being held last night.

The haul is the biggest find of heroin to date in 2012. It follows an apparently unrelated heroin find valued at €1.5 million last month in Finglas, Dublin.

Those two major heroin finds in as many months come as the illegal drugs trade remains depressed since the recession began, as user demand has plummeted in line with disposable incomes. However, because those who use heroin are usually chronically addicted rather than recreational drugs users, the market for heroin is proving more resilient than for some other drugs.

The cannabis market has also remained buoyant, largely because of the increased quantity of cheap and potent cannabis being produced in growhouses across the State.

The Garda National Drug Unit’s Operation Nitrogen has been very successful in uncovering those operations, although many are believed to have been operating for some time before they were discovered.

Unlike the trade in heroin and cannabis, the cocaine market remains depressed. Most of those who use it are not addicted to it, meaning they have been able to cut down or stop using as their incomes have fallen.

Garda sources believe the drugs market is depressed generally because without large profits from their cocaine-dealing, many gangs have been unable to raise significant amounts of money to buy wholesale quantities of drugs for resale here.

This has meant significant drug seizures such as that found in Lucan on Sunday have been much more infrequent in recent years compared with during the boom.

Gardaí were congratulated on the seizure by Fine Gael TD for Dublin mid-west Derek Keating.

He urged all members of the community to “volunteer any and all information that could lead to the arrest of these criminals”.

Communities needed to “get behind” the Garda to bring drug dealers to justice, he said.

People needed to “remain vigilant to the signs of drug taking and drug dealing”, he added. He urged people to watch for unusual behaviour in their children “which may point to signs of drug abuse”.

Lucan Fine Gael councillor William Lavelle said he had in recent weeks “become aware anecdotally of an increase in suspected activity relating to drug sale and supply” in Lucan. Mr Lavelle said there was “no evidence of increased drug use in Lucan”.