Gang jailed for operating elaborate Cork cocaine extraction lab

Four given sentences varying from 5-12 years for operation involving soak fabric from Brazil

All four had pleaded guilty to possessing over €50,000 worth of cocaine for sale or supply. Photograph: Getty Images

All four had pleaded guilty to possessing over €50,000 worth of cocaine for sale or supply. Photograph: Getty Images

 

An Irish gang caught operating an elaborate cocaine extraction laboratory in west Cork have been given jail terms varying from 12 years to five years.

Father of three, Sean MacManus (37) from Burrowfield Road, Baldoyle, Dublin was described as the main organiser of the elaborate drugs operation by Judge Seán O’Donnabhain at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday when he sentenced him to 15 years in jail, with three years suspended.

Co-accused, Molly Sloyan (25) from Abbey Court in Kinsale in Co Cork but with an address at Benidorm in Spain, and Dean Gilsenan (27) from Kilmahuddrick Green, Clondalkin in Dublin were each given ten year sentences with three years suspended for their part in the operation extracting cocaine from soaked fabric imported from Brazil.

A fourth co-accused, Gilsenan’s father, William (52) also of Kilmahuddrick Green, Clondalkin was given a seven year sentence with two years suspended for his part in the scheme at the house they had rented at Seascapes, Dromleigh in Bantry.

All four had pleaded guilty to possessing over €50,000 worth of cocaine for sale or supply when members of the West Cork Divisional Drugs Unit and the Cork City Divisional Drugs Unit backed up by armed member of the Regional Support Unit raided the house on November 26th, 2017.

Lining of duvet

Det Sgt Joanne O’Brien of Bandon Garda station told how gardaí, with assistance from customs officers, uncovered the drug extraction laboratory in the rented house in an intelligence led operation which resulted in gardaí recovering 733 gms of cocaine with a street value of €51,292.

She told how the operation involved the gang using an industrial cleaning agent called Isopropanol to leach cocaine from the lining of a duvet which had been soaked in the drug and posted to an address in Clondalkin from Sao Paulo in Brazil on September 28th, 2017.

The package containing the drug soaked fabric was delivered to the An Post Sorting Centre in Portlaoise and then delivered to the address in Clondalkin where it was collected by the gang and brought to the house in Bantry where they set about extracting the drug.

Det Sgt O’Brien said that MacManus had sent videos via WhatsApp to Dean Gilsenan showing him how to extract the drug using heating equipment and he claimed that he was to be paid €5,000 for his expertise in showing them how to carry out the leaching process.

She said that Sloyan, who was dating MacManus after meeting him in a bar in Spain where he was running a café, had bought a car for the gang, used her email to order the Isopropanol and paid €1,000 in cash to rent the house in Bantry in her name.

Det Sgt O’Brien told how gardaí found face masks and gloves at the house in Bantry and DNA analysis linked MacManus and the Gilsenans to the masks, though she accepted that William Gilsenan was simply a worker at the laboratory and was not involved in the organisation of the operation.

Previous conviction

She told the court that MacManus had a previous conviction from Cavan Circuit Criminal Court from 2009 for possessing over €13,000 worth of drugs while Sloyan had a previous conviction for simple possession of cannabis and the Gilsenans had no previous convictions for drugs.

Judge O’ Donnabhain said it was an extraordinary case and he could not compare it to either a normal possession for sale or supply case, or a cannabis growhouse case, given the level of planning and organisation that went into importing the fabric and extracting the cocaine.

He said that he had to take account of the differing levels of involvement by each of the accused. He said MacManus was the principal behind the operation, Sloyan was centrally involved in the operation’s organisation while Dean Gilsenan was involved in operating the laboratory.

He noted that all four had pleaded guilty to the offences and provided a certain level of co-operation to gardaí. He said that was of benefit to them when it came to structuring sentences so that they would get a portion suspended on condition that they would be of good behaviour upon their release.

However, he noted the State had been lenient with MacManus when he was previously given a seven year sentence for possessing drugs for sale or supply and while he had to impose a mandatory ten year term for a second such offence, he believed he merited a stiffer term as he jailed him for 12 years.