Customs officers seize €40m worth of illegal drugs, €27m of cigarettes this year

Gangs have moved into shifting raw tobacco instead of illicit cigarettes, officers have said
Customs officers seize €40m worth of illegal drugs, €27m of cigarettes this year

Head of customs at Dublin Port Tom Talbot said there had been a change in the cigarette trade, with organised criminal gangs shifting to raw tobacco, instead of illicit cigarettes, with 34 tonnes seized this year, compared to four tonnes last year. Picture: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin

Customs officers have so far this year processed more than 4m movements of British-bound traffic at Dublin and Rosslare ports post-Brexit, a 10-fold jump on last year.

Head of customs at Dublin Port Tom Talbot said, in addition, 300,000 trucks are coming from Britain into Ireland and they have set up a system which can “green light” 80%-90% of those trucks on arrival by doing the necessary checks while the ferries are sailing here.

He said he had 30 staff working in his trade facilitation section, but now had 180 staff such has been the upsurge in work.

Speaking at the Dublin Joint Policing Committee, he said:

  • €40m worth of illegal drugs have been seized in 2021, compared to €18.5m in 2020;
  • €27m of cigarettes seized (€42m last year);
  • €24m worth of tobacco seized (€2.5m in 2019);
  • €180,000 of suspected criminal cash seized (€132,000 last year).

Mr Talbot said there had been a change in the cigarette trade, with organised criminal gangs shifting to raw tobacco, instead of illicit cigarettes, with 34 tonnes seized this year, compared to four tonnes last year.

He said this trend was also being seen in Britain and other European countries.

Significant decrease in most crime categories

Garda Assistant Commissioner for Dublin, Anne Marie Cagney, told the committee that most crime categories in Dublin show a significant decrease so far this year, compared to the same period last year.

This included a 36% reduction in burglary, a 37% drop in aggravated burglary, a 24% reduction in robbery from the person, a 19% fall in drugs supply and a 21% reduction in drug possession.

But the number of assault causing harm offences remained unchanged and included a 13% rise in Dublin Southern Division.

There was a 4% increase in domestic violence cases, including an 11% rise in Dublin North Central.

Ms Cagney said in the first nine months of 2021, drugs worth €18.68m were seized along with cash worth €5.55m as well as 687 firearms. 

Councillors commended Ms Cagney on Operation Citizen, set up last month, to respond to concerns of a lack of safety in the city centre.

Dublin Lord Mayor Alison Gilliland said she was concerned about "young girls under the influence late at night" and asked the commissioner about her approach.

Ms Cagney said she is often out on the beat and said that too was one of her "biggest concerns" and said it was a safety issue she would like to talk about more.

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