Drug seizure off Irish coast is 'largest in history of the state'
"This is a huge hit for the people involved in this."
A drug seizure worth an estimated value of €157 million and weighing around 2,000kg is the largest haul in the history of the state, gardaí have confirmed.
Officials recovered large quantities of the cocaine after a Panamanian registered ship, MV Matthew, was stormed by armed forces and impounded on Tuesday, September 26.
25 crew members that were aboard the vessel are being interviewed by gardaí, while three people remain in garda custody.
“This product was supplied by a South American cartel,” Assistant Garda Commissioner Justin Kelly said at a press conference this morning (Wednesday, September 27).
“One of the murderous cartels that are behind the cocaine shipments into Europe.”
"This Joint & multiagency Op demonstrates the interoperability of Óglaigh na hÉireann, underlining the unique capability that we bring to the defence of the State. The significant intel led planning by the JTF enabled the coordination & execution of this complex multiagency Op. pic.twitter.com/2bcsZkyxdg
— Óglaigh na hÉireann (@defenceforces) September 26, 2023
Another, much smaller ship, was also involved in the operation when it ran ashore on a sandbank just off the coast of Blackwater, Co. Wexford.
It is believed that the boat was used to receive deliveries of drugs from the larger vessel. Two men aboard were rescued and arrested by authorities.
Irish criminal groups involved in drugs shipment
On Tuesday, the MV Matthew, which left the southern Caribbean on August 18, sailing to South America to collect cargo, was headed towards the Port of Cork when it was intercepted by Irish authorities.
A joint operation by Naval Service and Air Corps helicopters and an Army Ranger Wing team secured the vessel, where it was then brought to Cork Harbour, where it is now being forensically examined.
Warning shots were used as the vessel did not follow orders by the Naval services.
At the press conference, the Assistant Commissioner said that Irish criminal groups were involved in the shipment:
"There's no large shipment like this coming into our ports or transiting our country without an Irish criminal group involved."
Assistant Commissioner Kelly also described the operation as " a significant disruption for criminal groups" who would have lost " significant money".
"This is a huge hit for the people involved in this," he said.
"It sends a message that Ireland isn't an easy place to import drugs in to and that we will be relentless and determined to disrupt and dismantle criminal gangs."
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