There has been a sharp increase in the number of packets and parcels containing illegal drugs detected this year, with almost a doubling of seizures by Revenue so far in 2019. A record number of detections has uncovered almost €3m worth of controlled drugs weighing over half a tonne.
Most of the detections are made at postal sorting centres including the main centre in Portlaoise, where Revenue staff use sniffer dogs and X-ray machines to intercept packages.
Official figures show a total of 2,211 individual consignments of drugs being sent through the postal service were uncovered up to the end of October compared to a total of 1,149 seizures during all of 2018. They indicate that there is an increasing number of smaller quantities of drugs being intercepted by Revenue.
Asked about the issue in a parliamentary question by Fianna Fáil TD John Curran, the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, said he had been assured by Revenue officials that the combating of the smuggling and importation of controlled drugs into Ireland remains a priority.
“Revenue’s work against drugs and crime is extensive and multifaceted and is kept under constant review to ensure that it makes the most effective contribution possible to dealing with this societal problem,” said Mr Donohoe.
Drugs worth over €11.4m have been seized after being sent through the post since 2015 in almost 5,200 separate packages containing over 1,233kg of illegal substances. The range of drugs seized is extensive including cocaine, heroin, and cannabis as well as amphetamines, ecstasy, and “head-shop drugs”.
Packages arriving in main postal sorting centres are subject to risk-profiling and post-clearance controls, according to Revenue.
Gardaí claim the growing trend is a sign of the increasing popularity of sourcing drugs online because of greater privacy and lack of traceability with many suppliers using websites on the dark web with drugs paid for using cryptocurrencies.