Southwest coast targeted by gangs for large drug landings


BACKGROUND:THE SUSPICION shared by Customs and the Garda that the €3 million cannabis consignment seized aboard the Colin Hannah was destined for the southwest coast of Ireland is well founded, given a history of large landings of drugs in the area.

A Customs source said it was quite probable that if the drugs were intended for landing in west Cork, a local boat would have met the Colin Hannah several miles offshore to transfer the drugs.

Such a procedure enables drugs to be landed without attracting the suspicion a non-local boat might. The original vessel is then left clean in the event of searches.

Over the past two decades, the southwest coast has become a favoured transfer point for gangs seeking to smuggle cannabis from North Africa and cocaine from South America into Europe.

It’s difficult to estimate how much of the various substances have got through over the past two decades, but the Customs, Garda and Naval Service have had some success, beginning with the Karma of the East in Courtmacsherry in July 1991.

Customs officers found 28 bales of cannabis worth about €9 million aboard and a Corkman, Christopher “Golly” O’Connell, received an eight-year jail term.

Other successes followed, including the recovery of €125 million worth of cocaine from the Sea Mist in Cork harbour in 1996 and of €325 million worth of the drug from the Gemeos in Kinsale in 1998.

In November 1999, the converted trawler Posidonia was boarded by Naval Service personnel and brought into Schull, where it was found to have €18 million worth of cannabis, which had been picked up off the coast of Morocco.

There have been two other major successes since, including the recovery in July 2007 of 1.5 tonnes of cocaine worth €440 million when a small vessel capsized in Dunlough Bay after collecting the drugs from the catamaran Lucky Day.

In November 2008, 1.5 tonnes of cocaine worth €400 million were seized on board the yacht Dances with Waves off the southwest coast.