‘Under the radar’ | 

Man held in €2.8m cocaine raid ‘a vital cog in network linked to Kinahans’, gardaí believe

In total, eight people were arrested including a business director and at least two of his employees.

Gardai at the scene of one raid

Gardaí at the scene of one of the raids in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Robin SchillerIndependent.ie

An “under the radar” key drug distributor was one of eight people arrested after gardaí busted a drug factory in south Dublin.

Almost €3 million worth of cocaine was seized along with 240kg of mixing agent when detectives searched a business premises in the Long Mile Road area on Tuesday.

Gardaí are investigating whether the drug mixing factory was being operated by the wider Kinahan cartel network in Ireland.

In total, eight people were arrested including a business director and at least two of his employees.

Independent.ie understands that another south Dublin man in custody is suspected of being a “vital cog” in the storing and movement of cocaine from the drugs factory.

“People believed to be operating at different levels have been arrested as part of this inquiry, including persons who are now no longer suspected of involvement,” a source said.

Gardaí at the scene of one of the raids in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

“One of the men arrested has been operating under the radar but gardaí believe he was a vital cog in this gang’s drug distribution network from what was a very significant operating hub”.

Four people arrested in connection with the seizure have now been charged. Three men and a woman will appear before the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin later this morning.

Two of those arrested have been released without charge. Two other men held by gardaí following the raid had earlier been released from custody.

Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly, in charge of the Garda’s Organised and Serious Crime section, said yesterday that the drugs bust would have an impact on the gang involved.

“Absolutely, the dismantling of a distribution network really puts groups like that back, because it takes substantial effort to re-establish those networks and re-establish those supply lines,” he said.

“In particular, when we arrest people who are at that level, as you can see, our targeting is upstream, targeting people who are at that level. And that's why operations like yesterday take a lot of time and resources by An Garda Síochána but that's the level we're targetting.

Cocaine seizure

“Our message is that we will continue to target them. Not only that group but all groups involved in that activity,” he said. “As you can see from today, it's a hard lesson for the people who are involved in this.

“They are now detained under drug trafficking legislation and in due course some of them may face substantial sentences.”

The operation began on Tuesday morning when gardaí stopped two cars in west Dublin following a suspected handover.

Shortly after 11am, members of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) swooped on the vehicles in Blanchardstown and Ballyfermot. A follow-up raid was carried out at a business premises in the Long Mile Road area.

During the searches, gardaí recovered 40kg of cocaine, with an estimated street value of €2.8 million, as well as 7,000 nitrous oxide canisters and €78,000 in cash.

Detectives also found items used in the drug mixing and distribution process, including a hydraulic drugs press, 240kg of mixing agent and other paraphernalia.

A money-counting machine and several communication devices were also recovered.

Initially, seven men and a woman – aged between their 20s and 50s – were arrested but four have since been released without charge.

The investigation is being led by the GNDOCB, supported by the Special Crime Task Force, under the anti-drug initiative Operation Tara.

A Garda spokesman said that personnel from the garda dog unit, and divisional drug units attached to Ballyfermot and Sundrive Road garda stations, also assisted in the operation.

Asst. Comm Kelly also said that the amount of gas canisters seized was noteworthy.

“Nitrous oxide has been a substance that has been abused by young people in this country,” he said.

"And in other jurisdictions this has led to deaths and serious harm. It is of a particular concern to us that the same organised crime groups that are involved in the importation and distribution of cocaine are also involved now in the distribution of nitrous oxide.”

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