Gardaí seize €700m in drugs

Gardaí were involved last year in seizing €700m worth of drugs, targeting 621 crime gangs, and tracking down more than 9,000 missing persons.

Gardaí seize €700m in drugs

The Garda Siochána annual report for 2014 shows that 31 of the people remained untraced at the end of the year, including 16 “high-risk” cases.

The report said the force failed to meet its targets on violent crime, with a rise in assaults and murder threats, while the number of murders was unchanged.

The number of firearms seized rose last year, from 624 to 689, but this compared to 948 seized in 2010.

The annual report shows:

  • More than 4,000 people were arrested under Operation Fiacla, targeting roaming burglary gangs, resulting in almost 2,400 charges
  • Detections for speeding (226,731), non-wearing of seat belts (12,700) and using mobile phones while driving (32,400) were up, in total, by 9% on 2013
  • 46 tax assessments were made against people gaining financially from crime and 33 commercial fraud investigations were carried out
  • 549 children were removed by gardaí from their homes using emergency powers, compared to 728 in 2013

The report said the Garda National Drugs Unit (GNDU) was involved in drug operations with an estimated value of €698m in 2014. Some €57m of this was from internal operations involving only the gardaí, while the rest involved multi-agency operations, including some on an international scale. These included the haul of 1.25 tonnes of cocaine (street value €358m) from the yacht Makayabella, 640km off the Cork coast, last September. In December, 300kg of cocaine (worth €100m) was tracked by the GNDU, before being seized by British police in Portsmouth.

The €57m worth of drugs seized by gardaí alone shows a doubling in the quantity of cocaine seized (up from 52kg to 105kg), as well as a rise in cannabis herb (from 925kg to 1.2 tonnes), but a drop in heroin (from 61kg to 39kg ). The GNDU arrested 63 suspects in 43 operations.

The report said that 621 organised crime groups were targeted in 2014, more than twice the 270 gangs hit in 2013. Some detectives yesterday expressed doubt at the size of the figure, but senior Garda sources said it reflected a reporting practice, capturing the fragmentation within groups. This includes situations where members of a gang conducted their own operation and then rejoined the main gang, but they are recorded as separate gangs.

The figure includes gangs, on a local, national and international basis.

Previous figures refered to top-tier gangs only. In 2012, former garda commissioner Martin Callinan told an Oireachtas committee there were around 25 organised crime gangs, five with significant international connections.

The report said one operation, codenamed Mocha, targeted a cross-border gang involved in “auction fraud”. The gang, with a reach across Europe, traded online in plant machinery and construction equipment that was not theirs to sell. Two people were charged.

There were 26 cases of suspected internal fraud in 2014, double the 2013 number. Some 167 members were found to be in breach of discipline and 28 were on suspension at the end of the year, compared to 153 and 24, respectively, in 2013.

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