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Revenue says record €56m cocaine haul in 2021 is due to trade flow disruption

Revenue intercepted and seized a record 800kg of cocaine, valued at €56 million, last year as it was being brought into Ireland.
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Neasa CumiskeySunday World

The increase in cocaine seizures during the Covid pandemic can be attributed to changes in trade patterns, Revenue officials say.

Revenue intercepted and seized a record 800kg of cocaine, valued at €56 million, last year as it was being brought into Ireland.

The figure is eight times higher than that seized the previous year, and it is believed that changes to importation flows allowed customs officers to detect major drugs hauls more easily, The Irish Times reports.

Drug smugglers prefer to conceal cocaine shipments in “legitimate trade flows”, Revenue Commissioner Gerry Harrahill told a recent Oireachtas Committee meeting.

He said a reduction in trading during the pandemic made Revenue's job much “easier” because it allowed officers to readily identify abnormal importation patterns.

“Another element is the ongoing investment by all agencies in developing intelligence. Intelligence has a long gestation. Work that may start on a case or programme today may not come to fruition for two years,” he said.

A Revenue spokeswoman told The Irish Times that customs officers routinely profile imports and exports using X-ray equipment.

“Smugglers are resilient and resourceful in terms of smuggling methods and concealment techniques, and have the capability and resources to adapt their methodologies quickly,” she explained.

A joint Garda and Revenue operation in February 2021 led to the seizure of cocaine weighing 170kg which arrived at Ringaskiddy, Co Cork after being transported in South American shipping containers.

A further 500kg of the Class A drug was found disguised as charcoal in shipping containers at Dublin Port in August.

And while Revenue data shows that cocaine seizures so far this year are still higher than pre-Covid levels, it remains unlikely that last year’s record haul will be matched.

As of June 8 2022, Revenue has seized cocaine weighing just under 90kg and worth approximately €6.2 million across 59 separate hauls.


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