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Comment Why a 50kg coke seizure is no longer a hammer blow

Bloodied bodies strewn in the wake of drug epidemic

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Haul: The €3.5m of  cocaine seized by gardai in north county Dublin this week barely raised an eyebrow

Haul: The €3.5m of cocaine seized by gardai in north county Dublin this week barely raised an eyebrow

Haul: The €3.5m of cocaine seized by gardai in north county Dublin this week barely raised an eyebrow

There was a time in the not too distant past when the seizure of 50kg of cocaine would have been cause for huge celebration.

The bust would have been credited as being a ‘hammer blow’ to a gang and possibly considered as one of the ‘biggest ever’ coups in the Gardai’s war on drugs.

But nothing about cocaine respects limits, time or the hard work put in to take a swing at its onslaught. This is a drug which is growing faster than any other product known to man, the cancer of the narcotics world is coming at us at breakneck speed from 8,000km away.

Gardai from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau moved in on the latest load to arrive in Ireland on Thursday as it was transported to a yard in Swords in north county Dublin.

They are men and women paid an ordinary wage and each time they act on intelligence or tip-offs they have no idea what they are entering into.

Drugs come from a dark world where life is often worth less than a gram, let alone a kilo, of white.

This week’s seizure was transported on a container directly from Colombia to Dublin and hidden among ordinary goods. A driver arrested at the scene could face charges –but it is unclear as yet whether he even knew he was carrying the deadly cargo. The 50 kilos, with a street value of more than €3.5 million, will be examined for its purity before it is destroyed.

To make sense of the money to be made from drug smuggling it is important to realise that the Swords load started its journey deep in the jungle of Colombia while worth just €20,000 and created from the blood, sweat and tears of the poorest of the poor.

Officers believe it was bought by a conglomerate of dealers, including the drug boss known as Mr Big, whose war with rival criminal Robbie Lawlor led to a teenage boy being murdered and dismembered, his legs left in a sports bag on a Coolock housing estate.

Pandemic

Months later, Lawlor’s body was discarded in a pool of blood in a Belfast housing estate, his brutal end an inevitability of his violent life. In the bigger picture, both are just a statistic in cocaine’s rising death toll, akin to a pandemic made and funded by man.

The fate of teen Keane Mulready Woods, however, made news across Europe, where we are still unused to the savagery of drug crime witnessed every day in narco territories like Colombia and Mexico. As of now, 2020, we are still horrified by beheadings, mass murders and acts of torture where limbs are severed from bodies and often left displayed in theatres of horror.

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While we complain and gripe about our politicians and our police, we know they are not corrupted like they are by the cartels of Central and South America. There, government after government is bought, bribed and killed to keep the show on the road.

Wars are fought over plants and jungles, the lifeblood of the planet, are destroyed for profit and thousands of kilos of cocaine make a bloody journey through nations broken from conflict and greed.

For us that seems a world away.

Yet each year we get closer and closer to something that was once unthinkable.

It’s not just the seizure of 50 kilos of cocaine being an unremarkable event in a day’s work for our gardai.

It’s not only the casual attitude to cocaine being taken socially in the same way a gin and tonic is sipped. It’s more than that. It is the slow seeping of corruption into our society.

It’s the businesses that are being undercut by the dealers who need to transport their poison and launder their money.

It’s the gym owners, the car dealers and the beauticians who are being squeezed out of business by the criminals who offer a cheaper alternative – all the while funnelling never-ending cash injections from drugs through their supposedly legitimate firms.

Farmers

It’s the farmers who allow their produce to be transported as cover for drugs because they can’t find any alternative.

It’s the hauliers who cash in on the secret stash of contraband and often humans in their loads — what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

It’s the travel agents, the solicitors, the retail outlets who turn a blind eye in the face of a sale or a wealthy client.

This week the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported a continuing rise in the purity, the potency and the amount of cocaine flooding the continent.

Evidence and figures in the report concluded that cocaine availability is at ‘unprecedented levels’ in Europe. Meanwhile Colombia’s production level increases all the time where systematic failures to replace drug production as an employer of the poor have reaped havoc across the world.