Drug smuggler in custody after €5m heroin haul seized
By Tom Brady Security Editor
Saturday June 21 2008
A major drug importer, currently out of prison on bail, was in garda custody last night after armed detectives seized a €5m heroin haul.
The 43-year-old man is suspected of organising a series of drug shipments into the country over the past couple of years.
The suspect is from Tallaght, but has connections with all of the big drug trafficking gangs in Dublin, Limerick, Cork and other urban centres.
The heroin was seized at the end of a three-month intelligence-led operation involving the Garda organised crime unit and the national drug unit.
Senior officers said the seizure of the drugs had inflicted a severe financial blow to several gang leaders who had invested in the shipment. Some of the "investors" are currently in prison.
Officers believe the shipment of heroin had arrived in the country less than 48 hours before it was uncovered.
Last night they were trying to establish how the deadly haul was brought in and striving to obtain information about the importers' contacts overseas.
Detectives think the heroin was transported from the Netherlands to the UK and then smuggled here on board a ferry. But it is not clear if it was concealed in a truck or a car.
Undercover detectives had been keeping watch on the suspected gang's movements since the Spring and stepped up surveillance in recent days, as the traffickers became active.
Members from the two units, backed up by gardai from the Clondalkin drugs unit in Dublin, swooped on a storage company in an industrial estate in Clondalkin on Thursday evening.
The gang had stashed 20kg of heroin, with an estimated street value of €4m, and 35kg of cannabis herb, worth about €280,000, in the industrial unit.
Gardai detained a 24-year-old Polish man at the scene and the alleged organiser was arrested nearby.
In a follow-up operation gardai searched a car at Errigal Road in Drimnagh and found 5kg of heroin, worth €1m.
The driver, who is known to gardai and from the Cabra area, was not there at the time and is being sought by detectives. However, the driver's brother was arrested in the city centre.
The three men were being held for questioning throughout yesterday at Clondalkin and Ballyfermot garda stations under the Drug Trafficking Act.
The suspected organiser is currently out on bail after being arrested by gardai and charged with being involved in another big heroin shipment, which also involved a number of gangs.
One senior officer said last night: "This man has tentacles everywhere and has built up a lot of contacts around the country and overseas to organise importations."
The latest shipment was intended for sale on the Dublin market and gardai say the importers were preparing to hand over portions of the shipment to a number of gangs for distribution on the streets when the detectives pounced.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael's justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan said last night that it was extremely disturbing that one of the alleged key players in the drugs operation had been out o prison on bail.
He said this showed the need for an overhaul of the bail system.
- Tom Brady Security Editor