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probe underway Mountjoy Prison bosses fear criminals have infiltrated jails supply chains for smuggling

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Mountjoy jail

Mountjoy jail

Mountjoy jail

PRISON BOSSES fear criminals, associated with the Kinahan cartel, have now infiltrated the logistics network used to supply food and other materials to jails across the Irish Prison system.

A major investigation is underway after an intelligence-led search operation on a kitchen delivery truck to Mountjoy Prison on Tuesday revealed the presence of 30 mobile phones and SIM cards and an assortment of drugs, including two kilos of cocaine.

Although garda estimates put the value of the drugs alone at in the region of €145,000, sources say the value inside would likely be multiples of this figure.

In the wake of the discovery of the shipment, which had been concealed in boxes of sugar, orders were issued to prisons across the country that all delivery trucks are to be subject to intensive searches on arrival.

Although Tuesday’s seizure is being seen as a success at the upper echelons of the IPS, there are nonetheless grave concerns over how the supply chain was breached, how long the breach has existed and whether deliveries of drugs and phones may have also been delivered to other prisons in this manner.

A cohort of Kinahan Organised Crime Group inmates in Mountjoy remain the prime suspects for coordinating Tuesday’s delivery.

And while investigations within the prison are focused on who ordered the consignment and how it was to be distributed once inside, gardai are now said to be very much focused on establishing who supplied, packaged and concealed the drugs.

In the sophisticated smuggling operation, some of the packages had initials, prompting one prison source to liken it to an illicit "click and collect" delivery system.

The search was conducted at round 8.30am on Tuesday morning by the IPS Operational Support Group (OSG).

Some 600 boxes in the van were removed and searched and the contraband was found inside the two final boxes, purporting to contain sugar.

Items seized include 30 mobile phones, including three smartphones, and SIM cards, all worth in the region of €800-€1,000 each inside the prison; along with the illegal drugs, five boxes with at least 10,000 pills in them, steroids, and whiskey.

It’s understood gardai are satisfied the 40-year-old delivery truck driver was completely innocent and had no knowledge whatsoever of the concealed cargo.

"There has been an awareness for some time that traditional routes like drugs being thrown over the wall or visitors bringing them in could not account for the amount of drugs in the prison system," a source said.

"The suspicion was that something like this existed so, from that point of view, Tuesday is a major success for the Irish Prison Service.

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"But that success is tempered by the fact the extent of the breach now needs to be established both in terms of who is responsible and how long they have been in operation."

Sources say the company responsible for arranging the delivery is a legitimate and trusted logistics operator with contracts across the prison system.

All relevant and available CCTV will be examined to see if the identity of those responsible for tampering with the consignment can be established.

Although sources say the call which led to the seizure originated from outside the prison system, there are fears within Mountjoy that the criminals responsible are also carrying out their own enquiries to establish how the trafficking system was uncovered.

Gardaí say the cocaine seized on Tuesday had a street value of around €140,000 and valued the 10,000 tablets seized, believed to be sedatives, at €20,000, along with €5,000 worth of cannabis herb.

The Irish Prison Service said the haul is the single biggest consignment of contraband ever brought into Irish prisons.

With over 700 inmates, Mountjoy is the country’s largest prison housing some of most dangerous offenders, including senior figures in organised crime.

There are around 35-40 individuals closely connected to the Kinahan cartel in Mountjoy Prison based on the D and D wings in the jail.

Irish Prison Service Director General Caron McCaffrey said the drugs would have had a devastating impact on the prison population with the potential for loss of life by overdose.

She said: "There were 600 boxes, with each being painstakingly taken off the truck and searched, and it was in the middle of the last pallet of items, that it was detected, in two boxes which purported to be sugar but when those boxes are opened, they contained a very significant amount of contraband."

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