Man still held over €6.5m cannabis seizure


A MAJOR Irish drugs gang based on Continental Europe was the target of the joint Garda and Revenue operation in recent days that yielded cannabis valued at €6.5 million and led to the arrests of four suspects.

A further haul of cannabis resin and herb worth more than €2 million and supplied by the same gang into the Irish market was seized here only last week.

The more recent, larger seizure was discovered in Dublin and Kildare on Friday and is one of the biggest discoveries of drugs in the Republic in recent years.

Gardaí believe it was imported from the Netherlands. Members of the Garda National Drugs Unit had been monitoring those involved in the trafficking operation for some time. As the gang was attempting to import a very significant consignment of cannabis last week, a major surveillance operation was put in place by both the Garda and Revenue’s customs officers.

The haul of drugs was detected at Dublin Port having entered the State disguised as frozen pork products in cargo freight. It was placed under surveillance at the port and followed when it was being transported to commercial premises in Dublin and Kildare.

Once gardaí were satisfied the haul had been split in two and unloaded in both locations, they carried out surprise searches.

At lock-up commercial premises in Ballyfermot, west Dublin, and in other commercial premises at Newbridge, Co Kildare, gardaí found boxes and bags of cannabis resin and herb.

Some 180kg of herbal cannabis was found along with 630kg of cannabis resin. Sources said the haul has a total estimated street value of about €6.5 million.

There were two arrests on Friday, one at each search site. The suspects detained, both men, are from Ballyfermot, Dublin, and from Drogheda, Co Louth. Aged 36 and 44 years, both were taken for questioning to Clondalkin Garda station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act.

The Dublin man has since been released without charge while the man from Louth was still being held last night.

On Saturday two further arrests were made when two middle aged men were detained in Ballyfermot and Clondalkin. Of those, one has been released without charge while the other was still being held last night. While gardaí believe all four arrested suspects are linked to the drugs delivery and distribution network in Ireland, the target of the raids was a major Irish gang supplying drugs into the State from its base on the Continent.

The gang is also believed to have supplied another significant drugs haul found in Carlow and Kildare last week valued at €2 million. However, while both shipments came from the same Irish gang based abroad, they were delivered to two separate and unrelated criminal groups here.

Garda sources said the discovery of such large hauls in one week is unusual considering seizure patterns over the past number of years.

Drugs gangs have struggled in the recession due to a reduction in demand for drugs from cash-strapped recreational users and have been unable to raise the funds needed for importing large consignments from abroad.