Tensions high Inmate made secret phone call that led to the €170k contraband Mountjoy bust, claim sources
A SECRET phone call to jail authorities led to the biggest ever seizure of contraband in the history of the Irish Prison Service.
Sources said tensions were “extremely high” in Mountjoy Prison last night, with fears that an inmate gave crucial information that led to the seizure, which had a total value of more than €170,000.
It is understood the contraband was sprinkled with coffee in an attempt to prevent sniffer dogs detecting it.
“What you have to remember here is that the items may be worth €170,000 on the outside, but the value of illegal drugs, mobile phones and alcohol is far more in the prison system,” the source said.
“A phone call was made from the outside, which alerted jail authorities to what was due to end up in the kitchens of Mountjoy Prison.
“From the kitchens, the contraband was due to be distributed throughout the prison system.
“Early indications are that a blame game is taking place over who is responsible, and this is a very serious situation when it is jailed members of the Kinahan cartel who are suspected of organising this.
“Someone could easily get sliced up or badly assaulted or worse over this.”
The driver of a van in which the contraband was found in two boxes that were meant to contain sugar and were hidden in a pallet was arrested at the scene by gardaí from Mountjoy station.
He is a Romanian national aged in his 40s who was not previously known to gardaí.
Senior sources said that “all the indications were that he knew nothing about the contraband”, but he was still being questioned last night.
It is understood the massive haul was placed in the van, which contained five pallets, without the driver’s knowledge.
“Gardaí assisted the Irish Prison Service on the discovery of cocaine with an estimated value of €140,000, tablets believed to be worth up to €20,000 and €5,000 in suspected cannabis herb, all pending analysis,” a garda spokesman said.
“A small quantity of steroids and alcohol along with 30 mobile phones and accompanying SIM cards were also seized.
“Gardaí are continuing to liaise with the Irish Prison Service and further analysis of the items seized will be carried out.”
The consignment of up to 10,000 tablets, the phones, SIM cards, cocaine, steroids, whiskey and even Fitbits were found yesterday morning in an intelligence-led operation following a tip-off.
Some of the packages even had the initials and nicknames of inmates on them, leading one prison source to say the operation was being run like a click-and-collect enterprise.
“There was even an exercise band hidden among the drugs and phones, which shows how personalised this delivery was,” a source said.
The van was making a regular delivery to the prison yesterday morning when it was searched by Operational Support Group staff who were expecting to find the material.
Gardaí and prison management will also be investigating if other consignments of contraband could have been smuggled into the prison in a similar way, or if desperate criminals had decided that “going big” was worth the risk.
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The prison service has had considerable success in thwarting the efforts of inmates’ associates in getting drugs into jails in the past.
“The Irish Prison Service can confirm that a substantial amount of contraband has been seized in Mountjoy Prison by the Operational Support Group (OSG) based at the prison,” a spokesman said.
“The contraband was seized following an intelligence-led security operation by Mountjoy Prison staff supported by the Operational Support Group.
“The contraband, which included a substantial amount of drugs, including a large quantity of tablets, alcohol and mobile phones, has been provided to
An Garda Síochana for analysis and is the largest single seizure of contraband into an Irish prison.
“The Irish Prison Service has commenced an investigation into the seizure and is working with An Garda Síochána in this regard.”
Caron McCaffrey, the director general of the Irish Prison Service, said the operation was “a very significant result for Mountjoy Prison and our Operational Support Group in their efforts to prevent dangerous contraband from entering the prison”.
“It is highly possible that these drugs, if they had made their way into the prison population, could have had a devastating impact, including the potential for the loss of life by overdose.”
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