A massive haul of heroin at Dublin Airport — involving a female courier accompanied by a child — is believed to be part of a sophisticated trafficking system to bring consignments from Pakistan into Britain.
The woman, who was travelling with a child thought to be aged around nine, arrived from a connecting flight from Pakistan. When she was met in arrivals by a man, observing customs officers and gardaí swooped.
The two adults, both British nationals, were arrested and 15kg of heroin, with an estimated street value of €2.1m, was found inside the woman’s baggage.
It is one of the biggest seizures of the drug in recent years and follows a 12kg haul of heroin in Neilstown, west Dublin, last September.
Gardaí do not believe the drug was bound for the Irish market, at least directly, and suspect it was destined for Britain, although some of it may have subsequently been supplied to Ireland, the most common route for heroin to here.
Sources said the use of the child was designed as a ruse to distract law enforcement officials.
A source said: “I wouldn’t say it’s unusual, but we don’t see it that often. It’s obviously a cover. In their minds, a female and a child is less likely to be stopped and searched, but it’s a well-known cover.”
Customs have developed detailed profiling techniques in relation to trafficking and would have noticed that the woman was not flying direct to Britain from Pakistan and instead was landing in Dublin and then on to Britain.
Security sources have said that the use of couriers, carrying considerable quantities of heroin, from Pakistan into European cities has been documented in the last 12 months.
Trafficking gangs create “alternative” routes in response to what is described as increasing seizure rates.
With many European airports operating a high-security alert in relation to preventing terrorist attacks, trafficking gangs also target airports in countries which may be perceived as having a lower security threat level.
The woman in her 50s flew into Dublin Airport on Friday accompanied by a child. They were on a connecting flight from Lahore, Pakistan.
The Revenue’s Customs Service and the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau were conducting an intelligence-led operation and monitoring her movements.
When she entered the arrivals hall she was met by a man, aged in his 30s. Gardaí and customs officials swooped and made their arrest.
When her luggage was searched by Customs, 15kg of heroin was discovered, with an estimated street value of €2.1m. They were detained under Section 2 Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996.
Gardaí contacted social workers who took the child, a British citizen, into care. They alerted their British counterparts and it is understood efforts were being made to contact a relative.