Cork court hears Lithuanian drug gang had 'foot soldiers' in towns all over Ireland

The court heard the 26-year-old had drugs convictions from Galway, Waterford, Tralee, Northern Ireland and now Cork.
Cork court hears Lithuanian drug gang had 'foot soldiers' in towns all over Ireland

The young man was using heroin himself and he was involved in the offences to feed his own habit. File image

A Lithuanian drug-dealing gang were sending “foot soldiers” to urban centres all over Ireland – north and south – to sell heroin on the streets and today one of their street dealers was jailed for 18 months.

Detective Sergeant Robert Brosnan said the 26-year-old Lithuanian man being sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court had been in Ireland for four years and had drugs convictions from Galway, Waterford, Tralee, Northern Ireland and now Cork.

Ligitas Grigalaitis of Dunclug Park, Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, was given a three-year jail term with half of it suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin questioned why the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided it was a suitable case to be dealt with at district court level.

Defence barrister Peter O’Flynn said the only reason it was before the circuit court was that the DPP decided it could only be dealt with in the district court on a plea of guilty and that, initially, the accused man was pleading not guilty so his case was sent to the circuit court. Judge Ó Donnabháin said that was the correct court for this case.

“This is a case where a man is allowing himself to be used by a gang of others to supply drugs in various locations. I am concerned only with what he had in Blackrock.

The evidence is that he was a foot soldier for a group rotating people around the country until they became identified and then moved on.

“He was knowingly involved in the sale or supply of drugs in the country. He took full advantage of the freedom of movement under the Treaty of Rome. I think it is extraordinary the DPP felt it was suitable for the district court. If we are going to validate open dealing then it is a sad situation,” the judge said.

The judge imposed a three-year sentence and suspended the last 18 months on condition that he would leave Ireland and stay out of the country for the following five years.

The defendant confessed to drugs charges arising out of the seizure of a €3,000 stash of heroin over three years ago on The Marina in Blackrock. He pleaded guilty to two drug supply charges.

Defence barrister Peter O’Flynn said the young man was using heroin himself and that he was involved in these offences to feed his own habit.

Det. Sgt Robert Brosnan testified that members of the divisional drugs unit identified property on Blackrock Road where a group of Lithuanian nationals were believed to be involved in the sale or supply of heroin.

“On August 23, 2017, a surveillance operation was put in place. They observed the defendant going to an area of ground between the Monahan Road and the Marina where gardaí later established there was a jar containing deals of heroin.

"At one stage there were 80 deals of heroin in the jar with a street value of €3,000 approximately. The defendant went to the jar, hid seven deals in his mouth and went to the Munster Agricultural Showgrounds where gardaí approached him and arrested him after a brief struggle. They retrieved the deals from his mouth and from the jar, and Grigalaitis was prosecuted."

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