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Paper weight Legal package posted to prisoner had drugs soaked into photos of his late mum

A sources said the tabs, which have a similar effect to Valium, are estimated to have had a street value of €1,000 but would be worth many times that in the prison environment.

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The drug tabs found hidden in legal correspondence that was sent to a prisoner in Mountjoy Prison

The drug tabs found hidden in legal correspondence that was sent to a prisoner in Mountjoy Prison

The drug tabs found hidden in legal correspondence that was sent to a prisoner in Mountjoy Prison

A MAJOR investigation is under way after hundreds of drug-soaked paper tablets were found hidden in a legal package sent to an inmate in Mountjoy Prison.

The drugs, 210 paper tabs of Thienotriazolodiazepine, were hidden inside photos of inmate Eoin Connolly's late mother, which accompanied legal papers.

The package arrived at the prison on January 4.

A sources said the tabs, which have a similar effect to Valium, are estimated to have had a street value of €1,000 but would be worth many times that in the prison environment.

It is understood the photos of Connolly's mother, who died last September, were accompanied by a cover note advising prison authorities of this fact and a request that they be given to him.

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General view of entrance to Mountjoy prison, off North Circular road, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

General view of entrance to Mountjoy prison, off North Circular road, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

General view of entrance to Mountjoy prison, off North Circular road, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Connolly, from Portlaoise, Co Laois, is serving a six-and-a-half year sentence for transporting more than €500,000 worth of cocaine.

During his trial last year, gardaí rejected the 34-year-old's claims he had been acting under duress after he was threatened over a drugs debt.

Connolly pleaded guilty to possession of drugs for sale or supply at Outer Ring Road, Clondalkin, on March 16, 2019.

He has 27 previous convictions.

The source said that in addition to a number of photos of Connolly's mother, the package also contained "a cover note stating she had passed away and a request that he be given the photos".

"These photographs were in an external envelope while a second envelope inside contained the legal documents," the source added.

"On examination, the photographs were discovered to have false backs, and when these were peeled away, 210 paper tablets were discovered.

"The tablets were analysed and came back as containing Thienotriazolodiazepine.

"The guards put a street value of €1,000 on the tabs, but they could be worth four or five times that inside."

An Irish Prison Service (IPS) spokesperson confirmed it is investigating the find and said the matter has been referred to gardaí for criminal investi- gation.

There is no suggestion that anyone at the legal firm would have had any idea of the presence of the drugs, with investigations likely to focus on identifying the person who requested that the photos be sent to the prison.

"The IPS is investigating the discovery of contraband in a package sent by post to Mountjoy Prison in early January," an IPS spokesperson said.

"Prison staff are vigilant to the possibility of drugs coming in through the post as other more traditional routes are closed off due to Covid-19."

Sources said the discovery also led to an alert being issued to Operational Support Group security teams in prisons across the country.

They were advised that a legal package had been compromised in an attempt to smuggle drugs into an Irish prison.

The development came after the IPS had already moved to block the transit of drugs into jails via regular mail.

Over the past year, new detection machines have discovered drugs such as fentanyl being smuggled into prisons after being sprayed on to letters, newspapers and other items sent through the post.

The volume of drugs found on post, parcels and prisoner clothing mailed in has increased due to the suspension of visits due to the pandemic.

Sources said one A4 page sprayed with fentanyl can fetch €1,000 in a prison.

One incident in which letters sprayed with fentanyl were seized happened in the Midlands Prison, where the drug was discovered on a child's drawings sent to an inmate.

Measures have been introduced where inmates now receive photocopies of incoming letters.

The originals are kept in a folder until the inmate's release.

However, the same steps cannot be taken with legal letters as they are privileged, meaning the contents cannot be viewed by anyone but the inmate for whom they are intended.

Sources said all legal correspondence is now being subjected to an external swab and analysis by the detection machines.

The legal practice the Mountjoy package is understood to have originated from declined to comment.

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