MORE than 14 million cigarettes and nearly €1.5 million worth of illicit drugs – along with two stuffed turkeys and erectile dysfunction-type drugs – are just some of the items customs officers at Dublin Airport have seized from passengers so far this year.
And officers at the airport expect a surge in the amounts of contraband items, particularly drugs and tobacco products, seized between now and the end of the year as the summer holiday season is coming to an end. It also warned of an upcoming crackdown on people returning from seasonal shopping trips to the US without paying the correct duties.
So far this year, passengers arriving at the airport were caught trying to take a total of €1.35m worth of illicit drugs into the country in their baggage.
Excluding cargo or express courier system hauls, officers there have seized:
* More than 12kg of cocaine, worth €860,000; 3.27kg of herbal cannabis, worth an estimated €40,000; 1.5kg of cannabis resin, worth about €9,000; and 1.5kg of mephedrone, with a street value of €52,500 – the banned substance linked to head shops – has also been seized.
* More than 14 million cigarettes, worth about €5.86m, and 668kg of rolling tobacco have been seized from passengers to date, representing a loss of about €4.8m to Revenue.
Dublin Airport customs manager Shay Doyle said: “Obviously our priority is to protect the country against the importation of drugs, but cigarettes are a huge problem at the moment. Particularly with the economy the way it is at the moment, it represents a big loss [in revenue].”
Organised gangs operating from the Spanish archipelago and also eastern Europe “are literally sending couriers in with full suitcases”, said Mr Doyle, who expects to see an increase in both cigarette and drug smuggling at the airport now that the summer season is nearing an end.
The main type of medicines seized from passengers at the airport have included erectile dysfunction-type medication, hair loss cream and diet pills, and sedatives, including valium and diazepam. Hormone creams or tablets have also been seized, with 19,600 ampules of steroids intended for distribution across the health industry also being seized.
Strangely, two passengers fell foul of custom officials this year when they tried to import two stuffed turkeys without the relevant paperwork.
Mr Doyle said customs officers will now be focussing their attentions on seasonal shoppers bringing in goods on arrival home from the US in the run-up to the Christmas season.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved