€8.4m cannabis haul 'biggest in several years'
By Tom Brady Security Editor
Thursday September 10 2009
A Dutchman was in garda custody last night after Customs officers seized their biggest haul of herbal cannabis in several years worth €8.4m.
The consignment of 700kg had been vacuum packed and elaborately concealed in a 40-foot container load of flowers, mainly daisies.
Gardai said last night they believed the drugs had been intended for sale on the streets in Munster and were destined for crime gangs based in Limerick and Cork.
Officers estimated the street value of the shipment at €8.4m. Herbal cannabis sells at €12,000 a kilo.
The find was made as a result of Customs risk profiling and a series of operations targeting freight from certain countries.
The container was opened by officers when they checked a Dutch-registered lorry as it disembarked at Dublin port. It had been loaded onto the lorry in the Netherlands and then transported to Dublin on a ferry from Holyhead yesterday morning.
Customs alerted the gardai and the lorry driver, a Dutchman in his mid-50s was taken to Store Street garda station for questioning. He was being held there last night under section 2 of the drug trafficking legislation, allowing gardai to detain him for up to seven days without charge.
Meanwhile, detectives from the garda national drugs unit were spearheading inquiries into the Irish connections to the shipment while officers were also in close contact with the Dutch police.
Holland is one of the major source countries for Irish drug traffickers and several leading gangsters have set up base there to avoid inquiries by the gardai and the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Customs officers said the haul represented their biggest drug seizure so far this year and it was also the largest consignment of herbal cannabis in a number of years.
This was the second significant haul of herbal cannabis in eight days. Last Tuesday week, gardai captured a haul with an estimated street value of around €450,000 in Swords, Co Dublin.
That shipment had been imported into the country by a key member of the one of the Crumlin-Drimnagh gangs.
On the same night the national drugs unit seized €2.5m of cannabis resin when they intercepted a vehicle at an industrial estate outside Rathcoole, Co Dublin.
A third drugs haul last week involved €80,000 worth of ecstasy, cocaine, and cannabis, in a house between Tulsk and Boyle in county Roscommon.
And on Friday the national unit recovered a €1m shipment of high purity cocaine after stopping a car in Ballymun. The cocaine had earlier arrived at Dublin airport on a cargo plane from Spain.
- Tom Brady Security Editor