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Wexford heroin epidemic fuelled by Dublin criminal gangs

Crime DeskBy Lynne Kelleher
Wexford heroin epidemic fuelled by Dublin criminal gangs

A HEROIN epidemic has taken a grip in Co. Wexford, fuelled by Dublin criminals fleeing the capital and ‘micro’ local dealers using public transport.

Wexford is famous for being one of Ireland’s sunniest counties, but the shadow of drug addiction has come over the county’s towns and villages.

New figures from the National Health Research Board show Wexford, along with Tipperary, has the highest overall number of patients seeking treatment for drug addiction outside of the major cities.

The Sunday World can reveal that local security sources believe the heroin epidemic is being driven by small-time local dealers doing a daily drugs run from Dublin.

Also, it is believed that a number of ‘ex-pat’ Dublin gangsters allied to the Kinahan gang have bought property in Wexford in recent years – and are forging links with drugs gangs in the county.

One source told the Sunday World that, bizarrely, Wexford’s good public transport links to Dublin have helped increase the supply of drugs into the county.

On a daily basis, small-time street dealers are catching buses from the capital for day trips where they buy heroin and other drugs – usually spending no more than a few hundred euros.

They then return home and openly sell drugs on the streets of Wexford town, Gorey and Enniscorthy.

Another drop-off method involves couriers boarding trains and throwing packages of illegal drugs out the window to country lanes at the end of railway tracks, which are usually marked with a coloured plastic bag.

Gorey TD Michael D’Arcy said he has seen dealers openly selling drugs outside his office.

“There is a big problem with all drugs. It’s not just Wexford, it’s everywhere. There is a drug epidemic around the country,” said the Fine Gael TD.

“You can see people clearly under the influence of drugs on the streets. There has been an increase, I think, from the recession. We’re failing. We don’t have enough gardaí. 

“I am looking for a dedicated drugs unit for Wexford to take on these people. They come down on the buses and sell drugs and go back on the buses. They’re right outside my office. They come on certain days and they’re openly seen selling every type of drugs. 

“We absolutely have to do something soon. We have underprivileged areas that people who supply drugs are exploiting. There are drugs in our secondary schools, in some of our primary schools.”

Heroin, cannabis, cocaine, prescription drugs such as Valium and synthetic drugs are sold by dealers, most regularly outside post offices on the days when addicts are pocketing social welfare cheques.

However, Gardaí in Co. Wexford are increasingly concerned after a number of major criminals linked to the Hutch-Kinahan feud have been spotted in the county.

Courtown Harbour – which has logged 13 offences for illegal drugs already this year – is believed to be a bolthole for members of the country’s biggest drug gangs in recent years.

According to local sources, gangland figures with links to ‘Fat’ Freddie Thompson have been stopped by gardaí in the area this year.

Detectives believe the gang members are using holiday homes – which are owned by associates – as a base to escape from their rivals’ attention.

There is major concern about the presence of these gang members in the Gorey and Enniscorthy Garda Districts, which was controversially merged in 2013 – leaving one superintendent in charge of a district with a population of 70,000 people.

It is feared that they have forged alliances with local criminals through contacts made in prisons. 

One distraught mother from Wexford town told how her 27-year-old son only managed to get off heroin when he was put into Cloverhill prison, where he detoxed.

She said her son’s life spiralled out of control this summer due to his heroin addiction, culminating in an attempt on his own life.

She said: “My son has been on heroin for the past couple of years. He started doing things he didn’t even recognise that he had done. He robbed a house. He totally regrets it. He thought he was in a dream. He went to hang himself at three o’clock in the morning in the graveyard with a belt and I had to jump and stop him.”

In recent months she said she brought him to the out-of-hours Caredoc who referred him to University Hospital Waterford to try and detox, but they wouldn’t admit him.

“He fell in through my door and he was after taking a mental breakdown. He couldn’t speak. He has lost his job, his girlfriend, his kids,” she said.

She then called the guards as she feared for her son’s life.

She said: “A detective came then and had a talk with my son. He told him about breaking into a house and he was charged and we went to court that Saturday evening. He was put into Cloverhill because they had a detox centre there.

“Only for the judge and the detective he would have been dead. He was in Cloverhill for a month. It’s a terrible thing to say, but I could get to sleep as I knew he was in detox.

“It was horrible. He has been released into my custody and is back working. The Gardaí and Councillor Davy Hynes couldn’t have done enough for me. These drug dealers need to be caught. The drugs are everywhere.”

Councillor Hynes, who is also an addiction counsellor with the It’s Good To Talk counselling service, said there are no detox places for drug addicts in the county.

He said: “There is no residential detox in Wexford. There is a methadone service. It all comes down to the money. There is no money being put into the whole area. 

“There is no town in Ireland free from this, but Wexford continues to have a particularly high illegal drug use.”

He said the It’s Good To Talk service, which offers an affordable counselling service to people going through addiction, has struggled to get funding from the HSE.

He also said many addicts simply can’t afford the cost of rehabilitation unless they are referred through the HSE or the parole service.

“There are great places like Aiseiri in Wexford, but there is very little funding. When the recession hit services were cut, but addiction and drugs doesn’t stop because of a recession. In fact, the opposite is the case,” he said.

In Wexford, Garda figures reveal that there has been a 64 per cent increase this year in people charged with possession of illegal drugs for sale or supply, while there has been a 60 per cent increase in people charged with possession of illegal drugs.

Chief Superintendent in Wexford  John Roche said there are dedicated full-time drugs personnel in each District in the Wexford Division.

He added that the drugs issue needs be tackled by many agencies across the State.

He said: “A multi-agency approach including education, enforcement and prevention with stake-holders including schools, drugs task forces, HSE, Customs and an Garda Síochána each having a significant role to play.”

While there have been three drug seizures at Rosslare Europort so far this year, Chief Superintendent Roche said investigations indicate the final destination of such shipments were to locations outside of Co. Wexford.

He added that while there is evidence that some gangs commit crime in Wexford the issue is not unique to Wexford and is common in counties bordering on and in close proximity to Dublin.