€21m Of Cocaine Seized On Carg...


€21m Of Cocaine Seized On Cargo Ship In Limerick

Tom Douglas
Tom Douglas

04:26 20 Dec 2023

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Gardai suspect a €21million haul of cocaine, found on a cargo ship at Foynes Port in Co Limerick, was a shipment organised by a network of criminal gangs rather than one single criminal entity.

Around 300kg of cocaine, which would be worth even more on the street, was seized by Revenue Customs Services officials, on board the VERILA.

Its a bulk cargo vessel registered in Valletta, Malta.

The ship left Montreal, Canada, on December 9th, arriving at Foynes last Tuesday according to the Marine Traffic monitoring system.

However sources said it was on its way to Waterford when it was diverted to Foynes.

The bulk carrier that was also carrying a legitimate cargo of grain, it remained in the custody of Revenue customs services officials and Gardaí today.

Local Independent Limerick City and County Councillor Emmett O’Brien said he had warned in 2018 that communities dotted along the estuary, from north Kerry to Limerick City were “awash with cocaine”.

Speaking today, Cllr O’Brien said his warnings were “ignored” by government.

“This drug seizure doesn't come as any surprise to me, the government have known about this since 2018 and this is the fruits of local representatives being ignored, and a complete disregard for An Garda Síochana by the Fine Gael Justice Minister, and a lack of investment into our naval services.”

The Minister’s department was contacted Wednesday morning for comment but did not immediately respond.

A reliable Garda source said that given the volume of cocaine involved in the seizure at Foynes it was “probably for a wider distribution so unlikely that it was just purely for the Irish market”’.

“It’s an awful lot of (cocaine), even with the level of consumption in this (country), it is still an awful lot of product.”

Statements released by the Revenue Customs Service and Gardaí revealed that Revenue officers boarded and searched the VERILA and “identified and later seized approximately 300kg of cocaine with an estimated value of €21 million”.

“Revenue officers, including specialist search teams, supported by drug detector dogs, are continuing to search the vessel as part of a live and on-going operation.”

Garda forensic officers and customs officials were to continue searching the 189.98m x 23.8m cargo vessel over the next few days.

A Garda spokesperson said Gardaí were “working closely with Revenue officers in this operation.

A Revenue spokesman said its “investigations are continuing” and it remained “a live operation”.

“This seizure is part of Revenue’s ongoing operations targeting the importation of illegal drugs.

If businesses or members of the public have any information regarding drug smuggling, they can contact Revenue in confidence on Confidential Phone Number 1800 295 295.”

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Drugs Drugs Seizure Foynes Limerick