Two jailed for importing almost €5 million worth of cannabis

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Two men have been jailed for their roles in the importation of nearly €5 million worth of cannabis, using what was described by gardaí as an “unusually sophisticated system” which used the IKEA store as a meeting point.

Sean Mahony (39) of  Dunamore Crescent, Killinarden, Tallaght, Dublin and Peng Cheng (24), of Vlaurdingen in The Netherlands, pleaded guilty  at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of drugs for sale or supply at locations in North Dublin on May 16, 2014.

Gardaí observed Mahony and Peng, who was accompanied by another man, arriving at IKEA in vans on the day in question. After they met,  the third man drove Mahony’s van to a warehouse at North City Business Park, where gardaí saw it being loaded with pallets.

The man then returned to IKEA where Mahony and Peng were waiting. Mahony left in the loaded van and was then stopped by gardaí. Gardaí found 72.7 kilos of cannabis in the van, with an estimated value of €1.55 million.

A further 137 kilos of herbal cannabis and 88 kilos of cannabis resin were found in a search of the warehouse, bringing the total value of drugs found to nearly €5 million.

Peng was jailed for nine years while Mahony was jailed for six years. Neither has any previous convictions.

Peng told gardaí that he was instructed to set up a food importation company by people he owed money to through gambling. This company then imported drugs from Holland.

Detective Garda John O’Rourke told James Dwyer BL, prosecuting, that it was “a complex arrangement with pallets of legitimate goods that also included drugs”.  The drugs found in the warehouse were contained in boxes of Basmati rice.

Mr Mahony told gardaí that he also owed money and was forced to act as a courier. He said he was instructed to drive the van containing the drugs to Tallaght, park it and walk away.

Agreeing with Gerry O’Brien SC, defending, that Mahony did not know the amount of drugs involved, Det Gda O’Rourke said that a coded system involving barcodes was used to mark boxes containing drugs, so Mahony did not need to open them.

Mr O’Brien told Judge Martin Nolan that Mahony was a taxi driver “with no trappings of wealth” and was a mere courier in the operation.

Paul Greene SC, defending Peng, told Judge Nolan that a gambling addiction had left Peng “in thrall” of those higher up in the operation, and that he only received subsistence wages and accommodation for his participation.

Judge Nolan described Mahony’s role as a “one-off huge misjudgement” and took account of his guilty plea and lack of a criminal record, but said that “he was mature when he embarked on this activity” and he must pay a considerable price for his involvement

Judge Nolan also noted Peng’s guilty plea, absence of a criminal record and youth, but said that he was not as low on the scale of involvement as Mahony and knew what he was getting into “as a way of paying off his debts”.

A third man is due to be sentenced on March 24, next for his role in the operation.