Around €8.4million worth of cocaine seized in the Republic of Ireland “may have been destined for Northern Ireland”, according to a senior Gardai official.
The 120 kilo load was recovered when officers from the Garda National Drugs & Organized Crime Bureau, assisted by other units, intercepted two vehicles at two locations in the Lough Owel area of Co Westmeath just after 6pm on Thursday.
Along with the substantial quantity of cocaine, Gardai also seized a light aircraft at a commercial airport in Co. Longford where the drugs are believed to have been flown.
Two suspects, aged 54 and 40, are being questioned near Mullingar at Ashbourne Garda Station following their arrest last night.
Speaking to BBC NI’s Evening Extra programme, Detective Chief Superintendent Seamus Boland said criminals on the island “recognize no borders”.
When asked if some of the drugs would have been sold here at the market, he replied: “Yes, I think there is every possibility that some of the drugs seized yesterday were destined for Northern Ireland.”
“Firstly, the seizure itself is quite significant as it is 120kg of cocaine with a street value of 8.4 million,” he said.
“While we work very closely with our partners in Northern Ireland and the PSNI and the NCA and other law enforcement agencies, we see clearly that organized crime knows no borders and operates on an all-Ireland basis.
“It is very likely that some of the drugs seized yesterday are destined for the Northern Ireland market.
“We had a similar incident in February in Waterford where a light aircraft was seized as part of an investigation in collaboration with our UK colleagues, the National Crime Agency,” he said.
“This happened after a major drug seizure in the UK as the plane flew on and landed here in Ireland.
“This is nothing new for organized crime – it is something that is being experienced in the rest of Europe.”
Further searches were carried out at residential properties in Naas, Co. Kildare and Waterford City.
Two men have been arrested on suspicion of drug dealing in contravention of Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and are currently being held at Ashbourne Garda Station.
Following the operation, Deputy Commissioner Justin Kelly, head of Organized and Serious Crime, said: “This operation has prevented a significant amount of dangerous drugs from entering our streets and causing significant damage to our communities.
“As part of Operation Tara, An Garda Siochana is committed to dismantling and dismantling the organized criminal networks that profit from drug trafficking and thus negatively impact our society.”
The investigations are ongoing.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/highly-likely-seized-84m-cocaine-haul-could-have-been-destined-for-northern-ireland-says-senior-gardai-official-41892807.html ‘Highly likely’ seized €8.4m cocaine haul could have been destined for Northern Ireland, says senior Gardai official