By EUGENE MOLONEY
Thursday August 12 1999
ECSTASY tablets with a street value of up to £1.5m were seized in an early morning swoop by gardai yesterday.The discovery of 100,000 tablets of the drug, the biggest ecstasy haul so far this year, follows a six-week surveillance operation by the National Drugs Unit who had been tracking members of two drug gangs, one on Dublin's northside and the other on the southside.
The drugs were uncovered in Dublin in the back of a van which at one stage rammed a Garda car pursuing it through rush hour traffic.
The van, which was stopped by gardai at Ballymount near the M50 at about 9am, had earlier set off from a location on Dublin's northside where gardai believe the drugs were loaded.
The tablets bearing the name ``Mitsubishi'' were almost certainly destined for Dublin's club circuit where they sell for between £12 to £15 per tablet. Gardai believe they were brought into Ireland from either Holland or Germany by a relatively small-time gang on Dublin's northside who have moved into the business of importing and distributing drugs in the capital recently.
They sold the drugs on to a southside gang who would have sold the drug to a network of dealers.
Three men found in the van when it was stopped were all known to gardai. Their ages range from 19 to 29 and they are believed to be from the southside. Last night they were still being held at Blanchardstown garda station under Section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act which allows them to be held for up to seven days.
The biggest haul of ecstasy was last November when more than 250,000 tablets were found in the boot of a car in Dublin.
Although most of the supplies of ecstasy are brought in from countries such as Germany and Holland, gardai fear it may not be long before an underworld factory capable of manufacturing ecstasy and its constituents known as MDMA is established in Ireland.
The current spate of different gangs supplying ecstasy in Dublin owes its origins to the break-up of most of the gang responsible for the death of Veronica Guerin.
This left a void in the drugs underworld which was filled for a period by the drug activities of Brendan `Speedy' Fagan and his associate Paddy Farrell . However their subsequent murders left a fresh void which various smaller drug operators have attempted to fill in recent months.
Gardai believe the gang responsible for yesterday's seizure may well have received their consignment from the same people who supplied the Dublin drug gangs of the mid 1990s. Detectives from the National Drugs Unit were yesterday in touch with their counterparts in the Netherlands.
- EUGENE MOLONEY