Senior drug workers have praised gardaí in seizing 15kg of heroin in the largest haul of the drug in almost four years.
They expressed alarm at what the scale of the cache says about the size of the heroin market and trends in its usage nationally.
The seizure in west Dublin is estimated to be worth €2.25m and is expected to affect supply of the drug on the streets of Dublin and beyond.
Gardaí arrested a 37-year-old man during the seizure and are investigating what gang, or gangs, were involved in importing such a large consignment of heroin and where it was intended for distribution.
The seizure will have serious repercussions within the gangs involved, as they would have pooled resources to fund such a shipment.
The haul was found in a house at Mount Andrew Court, Lucan, and was the result of an ongoing operation by the Clondalkin Drugs Unit.
It follows the seizure last month of €1.5m worth of heroin in Finglas, north Dublin, by the Organised Crime Unit.
Tony Geoghegan of Merchants Quay Ireland, the country’s largest voluntary drugs agency, said he was amazed at the size of the haul.
“I have to say I was taken aback when I heard how big it was. It’s the largest amount I’ve seen seized in a long time.”
Mr Geoghegan said that depending on the purity of the drug, the 15kg could have ended up being 30kg by the time it was cut.
“I don’t know whether it was for the Dublin market or what. All the trends in Dublin is that heroin use has plateaued. It’s outside Dublin where it’s growing.”
He said even if the haul was entirely for the Dublin market, it would have a “significant” impact on supply, for a time at least.
A long-time youth worker in the Clondalkin area, Eddie Darcy, praised the drugs unit: “Obviously any find that size is a good thing. I would compliment the gardaí on this.”
Mr Darcy, who sits on the Clondalkin drugs taskforce, said he was concerned at the size of the find given that local treatment figures showed that few people under 23 were on heroin.
“I’m surprised, but also disturbed at such a large amount of heroin. I hope it doesn’t mean there was going to be a big sale on the local market or possibly moving to other parts of the country.”
Mr Darcy, a manager at Catholic Youth Care, said areas where heroin was traditionally slow to take off, such as Limerick and Cork, now had a booming heroin trade, as did large tracts of the East and Midlands.
He expressed concern at the impact of worsening economic conditions, particularly for young people.
Mr Darcy said he would be “keeping a close eye” on the ground in local youth centres, including in Ronanstown, north Clondalkin, and Lucan.
The haul is the biggest since 20kg of heroin was seized in Dublin in Sept 2008.
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