Eastern Europeans ‘prominent’ in drugs scene

Eastern European gangs are becoming “prominent” traffickers of drugs into Ireland, according to a report.

It also claims Ireland is a distribution point for the supply of cannabis resin from Morocco to Britain.

Research by EU police and drugs agencies confirms that Vietnamese and Chinese organised criminal gangs (OCGs) are heavily involved in cannabis cultivation across the continent, including Ireland.

The EU Drug Markets Report said criminal gangs were exploiting the legitimate, commercial transport sector to move drugs and that the internet was emerging as an “online marketplace for drugs”.

Action was needed to address this, it said.

The report said while heroin was in overall long-term decline and cocaine use was falling in high-prevalence countries including Ireland, the trade in synthetic drugs and domestically produced cannabis was growing.

The 158-page report, the first EU market analysis of its kind, said Dutch, British, and Belgian OCGs seemed to control much of the trade in western Europe in amphetamine and MDMA (ecstasy).

But it said Eastern European gangs were muscling in on the trade, including to Ireland: “Intelligence suggests the growing prominence of Polish and Lithuanian OCGs in trafficking drugs obtained in the Netherlands to various Nordic and Baltic States, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.”

The report, jointly compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and Europol, said their reach was extending as far as the US and Russia.

It said Lithuanian OCGs were brokers for “numerous illicit commodities” and had links with Russian gangs.

Last November, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan warned that Irish gangs were joining forces with Russian outfits in the supply of drugs and cigarettes, while Eastern European networks were involved in supplying firearms and narcotics.

The report said Ireland was being used to smuggle cannabis resin from Morocco into the UK. “Average seizure sizes greater than 1kg suggest that Ireland is also an entry point for Morocco resin into Europe,” it said. “Resin seizures represent about 15% of estimated national consumption; it is likely that some of the resin entering Ireland eventually ends up in the United Kingdom.”

* In Dublin tonight, the National Family Support Network holds its annual service of commemoration and hope in remembrance of those who have died from drugs and related causes.

The service, entitled ‘Our Children, Our Family’, is being held at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Sean McDermott St, Dublin 1, starting at 7.30pm.

The network can be contacted on 01 8365168 or see fsn.ie.

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