New drug route smashed after garda stakeout of deposit box
By Tom Brady Security Editor
Saturday October 27 2007
Gardai and customs officers have smashed a new drug trafficking route into the country, after a stakeout on a post office safety deposit box.
Detectives kept watch on the box, at Rathmines sorting office on the southside of Dublin, after a package of cocaine had been delivered by courier.
They arrested three men, two Nigerians and a Lithuanian, as the package was being collected.
Last night, the three suspects, all in their 20s, were being questioned at Terenure and Rathmines garda stations. They can be held without charge for up to seven days.
Gardai believe the trafficking operation was being masterminded by a gang of Nigerian criminals, who hired Lithuanians to help distribute the drugs.
One of the two Nigerians in custody was already being sought by the Garda National Immigration Bureau on a deportation order.
Last night, members of the bureau were examining the background of the other suspects, while drugs unit detectives were trying to establish if other shipments had already been brought into the country by the gang.
The package contained 3.5 kilos of cocaine, with a street value of €245,000, and it had been sent as cargo from Peru , via Belgium, to Dublin Airport.
The cocaine was discovered as a result of routine checks by customs officers at the airport earlier in the week.
The package, which was too big for parcel post, was collected by a courier and brought to the sorting office, where members of the Garda National Drugs Unit and the local drugs squad set up surveillance, until the cocaine was collected on Thursday afternoon.
One man was spotted taking possession of the package and he then joined two others in a car, which was then stopped by gardai.
Senior garda officers said this was the first time they had uncovered a trafficking gang involving a combination of Nigerians and Lithuanians.
Earlier this year, 400 kilos of herbal cannabis was also imported as cargo through Dublin Airport and detected by customs officials.
That consignment was seized by gardai after it was delivered to a warehouse on the outskirts of the capital.
But officers said it was not a regular trafficking route and the move underlined the efforts by crime gangs to change tactics, in an attempt to avoid detection by the authorities.
Meanwhile, a man was in custody at Finglas garda station last night, after detectives stopped a car and seized two kilos of cocaine with a street value of €140,000. The suspect is from Baldoyle, Co Dublin.
Elsewhere, a cannabis shipment, worth €46,000, was recovered by customs officers at Rosslare ferry port yesterday.
As a result of customs profiling of passengers and risk assessment, officers searched a Polish registered car, which had arrived from Cherbourg in France. They found 3.8 kilos of cannabis concealed in a compartment in the car.
A Polish national was arrested and taken to Wexford garda station.
- Tom Brady Security Editor