GARDAÍ have arrested 70 people in one of its biggest ever operations aimed at street-level dealing in heroin and cocaine.
A total of 100 houses in the greater Dublin area stretching out to Wicklow and Meath were searched in a 48-hour period leading up to yesterday as part of Operation Cellar.
Gardaí hailed the operation and said it had effectively closed down two significant drug dealing operations in the city centre. However, they also admitted that the 70 people arrested — 64 men and six women — were of low or middle rank in the drugs gangs.
The blitz was led by members of the Garda National Drug Unit backed by divisional and district drugs unit across the Dublin Metropolitan Area.
The 70 suspects had been charged primarily with offences relating to the sale and supply of drugs, primarily heroin. One man was charged in connection with a serious armed robbery.
The operation also led to the seizure of a small quantity of drugs and an imitation firearm.
Yesterday, senior Garda officers said the raids had been carried out following four months of covert work, including using undercover officers posing as customers.
Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Quilter, in charge of the drugs unit, said the vast majority of those arrested were from Dublin and ranged in age from their late teens to early forties and more arrests were likely to take place.
His colleague, Det Supt Pat Byrne, head of operations at the drugs unit, said:
“We are very satisfied that two significant dealing operations have been taken out in this operation.
“It was a focussed operation looking at significant players dealing in serious drugs and we are satisfied that it has been successful in two particular networks.”
Det Chief Supt Quilter said those arrested were of low to middle rank, but stressed gardaí targeted the drugs chain “at all levels”.
Det Insp Paul O’Brien outlined the type of street level; drug deal prevalent in Dublin from €50 to €100 deals on quantities of cocaine, down to just €15 for a single score of heroin.
Operation Cellar follows other exercises targeting street-level supply, such as Operation Marigold, which targeted Ballyfermot, Clondalkin and Ronanstown, and Operation Plaza, aimed at tackling crack cocaine in the north inner city.
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