One of Limerick’s most feared drugs and feuding gangs was dealt a massive blow yesterday when two brothers, said to be at the top of the city’s heroin pyramid, were each jailed for eight years.
Judge Tom O’Donnell, passing sentence on Kieran Collopy and Brian Collopy at Limerick Circuit Court, said the pair were involved in a covert, calculated, and mercenary operation for financial gain.
Both had pleaded guilty to having heroin worth more than €37,000 for sale or supply at the old family home in St Mary’s Park on December 15 last.
Judge O’Donnell said: “An aggravating factor is the nature of the drug involved, heroin. This is dangerous, highly addictive, insidious, pervasive, and an absolute scourge in our society and causes havoc, destroying people as human beings and affecting families.”
Brian Collopy, aged 43 of Killonan, Ballysimon, Limerick and Kieran Collopy, aged 40 of St Ita’s Street, St Mary’s Park were caught preparing heroin packs for the Christmas market.
Det Sgt Alan Cullen, head of the Limerick divisional drugs squad, told the court the operation being run by the Collopys was the top of the pyramid in the city’s heroin scene.
The brothers were found packaging heroin into 1oz units which they sold on to wholesalers, who broke the deals down to 3g amounts before the deals were further broken down when sold on the street.
Gardaí, following information received by Det Garda David McGrath, raided two adjoining houses at 34 and 36 St Ita’s Street on December 15 last. Both houses are interconnected.
Gardaí forced in doors at both houses at around 7pm and, as they entered, heard the sound of two distinct footsteps on the stairs.
Gardaí met one of the brothers coming from an upstairs bathrooom and the other was in a front upstairs bedroom.
In the kitchen, gardaí discovered 10 plastic bags each containing 1oz of heroin. Latex gloves and weighing scales were also found on the kitchen worktop.
Part of a latex glove and traces of heroin were also found on the stairs and the bathrooom.
A saucepan in the bath was found to have traces of heroin.
Det Sgt Cullen said the brothers had run up the stairs in an effort to dispose of heroin which had not been bagged.
“They effectively ran themselves into a corner,” he said.
The 1oz bags were destined for wholesalers who would break them into 3g amounts for further sale to street dealers, he said.
The detective sergeant said eleven months prior to the raid, Brian Collopy had finished a prison sentence and, on his release, began to travel to Spain once a month over the 11-month period.
“This would not be normal for a person drawing social welfare disability allowance,” he said.
Brian McInerney and Michael Collins, senior counsel for the Collopys, had objected to John O’Sullivan, prosecuting, asking Det Sgt Cullen about an undercover surveillance operation carried out five days before the raid when the Collopys were seen meeting a man referred to as “Mr X” at a Supermacs outlet in Portlaoise.
Judge O’Donnell backdated the sentences to December 15 last, when the brothers had been first remanded in custody.
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