Dealers begin to flood city with crack cocaine
By Tom Brady Security Editor
Thursday October 23 2008
IRISH drug dealers have begun distributing crack cocaine throughout the Dublin region.
However, the market is dominated by west African drug dealers who are importing cocaine through a network of couriers.
Despite targeted garda operations, the north-inner city remains the primary distribution ground and sales are largely restricted to users who are known to the traffickers.
A report into the prevalence of crack cocaine was launched yesterday by Drugs Minister John Curran, as EU justice and home affairs ministers prepared to give their approval to a major international police initiative to crack down on west African gangs who are flooding the streets of Europe with cocaine.
Ministers will hear at their meeting in Luxembourg tomorrow that last year the west Africans brought in cocaine shipments to Europe with an overall street value of €18bn. European police fear drug imports will increase as the markets decline in the US.
The report, from the Health Research Board, said that "rocks" of crack cocaine were being sold in €50 or €100 quantities. The report also revealed several of the "marketing initiatives" used by dealers, which include:
l Encouraging heroin users to switch to crack cocaine by claiming there is a heroin drought.
l Creating party packs where crack is sold in combination with heroin, cocaine, ecstasy or cannabis.
l Targeting known drug users outside methadone clinics.
l Enticing young buyers by marketing crack as "smokeable" cocaine.
The report also showed that users resorted to shoplifting, burglary and robbery to fund their crack habit; while there was an increasing number of women turning to prostitution to pay for deals.
Crack users, who were interviewed by researchers, said their spend ranged from €200 a week up to €11,000 on a two-day binge. A €50 rock is generally described as half the size of a thumbnail and could be enough for four pipes, or smokes.
The prices here are estimated to be higher than the generally reported UK and US street prices. In Dublin's north-inner city between January 2005 and December 2007, detectives from the garda national drugs unit made 23 seizures of crack cocaine, 23 subsequent crack-related arrests and secured 11 convictions. Five people are due to be sentenced as a result of the arrests.
Mr Curran said it was good news that the crack cocaine market had not taken hold in Ireland to the extent it had in other countries.
But the report highlighted the need to remain vigilant.
Crack's emergence here was attributed partly to the arrival of the west African dealers, who had the skills to prepare the drug as well as access to cocaine supply routes.
- Tom Brady Security Editor