A Dutch truck driver has been sentenced to 10 years with the final two years suspended at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for attempting to import €5.6m worth of heroin hidden in a shipment of flowers.
Thomas Van Son was employed as a “drugs courier” to transport the drugs into Ireland for a “small sum of money”.
Van Son (aged 57) of Halsterewey 209, An Bergen op Zoom in the Noord-Brabant province pleaded guilty to possessing and importing the drugs at Castleforbes Road, Dublin 1, on December 16, 2008.
Detective Garda Greg Fleming told Mr Eoin Hardiman BL, prosecuting, that he assembled a team of officers at Dublin Port as surveillance indicated that a number of 40ft trucks were coming in from the UK and two of them were from a reputable Dutch transport company called Van Dongen.
One of the vehicles, driven by Van Son, was searched over a number of hours and according to Det Fleming, a large bulk of the cargo was flowers being imported from Holland.
Towards the front of the trailer detectives found a box containing 58 packages of heroin valued at more than €5m.
A second man was also arrested and a trial in relation to this co-accused is pending.
Van Son was interviewed extensively by gardaí and he accepted responsibility for placing the package of heroin into the truck.
He told gardaí he believed it was cannabis herb and Det Fleming agreed with Mr Sean Gillane SC, defending that Van Son was “extremely upset” when he realised it was heroin.
“He lost a brother to heroin several years ago and he was heartbroken when he realised it was heroin,” said Mr Gillane.
“He felt the pressure of Christmas coming up and as he had financial pressures he acted as a drugs courier for the extra money,” he said.
Judge Patricia Ryan said Van Son, who has no previous convictions and has a good work history, is not a drug addict but acted as a courier “for financial gain”.