Gardaí in Limerick's St Mary's Park have set up checkpoints to monitor people who are visiting the area's 'drug supermarkets'.
Residents in the area told the Irish Examiner they are afraid to leave their homes as “drug cartels” instil fear in the community.
The level of drug-dealing in St Mary’s Park has become “unbearable”, with gangs operating “shops” and using complex systems to protect their bases of operation.
Outside the door of one house which was raided this week, a horsebox had been placed to prevent Garda raids.
The door of the house itself had been reinforced with heavy steel plates, and a barrier system was placed behind the door, in order to slow down Gardaí. Privately run CCTV is also understood to be in operation at the premises.
Gardaí seized €40,000 worth of drugs and €10,000 in cash following a search operation in the area on Thursday.
During the course of the search cocaine, diamorphine, cannabis and prescription tablets were seized. Two men and a juvenile were arrested during the operation, and the horsebox outside the property was also removed.
Over the past year, there have been over 63 search warrants issued in the area known locally as "The Island".
One resident, who requested anonymity said that the gang were letting off fireworks at peoples' homes shortly after the Garda operation, in response to the raids.
“I think most likely I will have to move at some point, which will be hard as I've lived here so long. I keep hoping it will get better, it will change, but it never seems to,” they said.
Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche, who spoke at a Joint Policing Committee on Friday morning said the Gardaí in Limerick were working with the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Limerick City and County Council to prosecute “anybody who thinks that they are going to set up drug cartels in that area.”
“I won’t flinch from that,” he added.
He made reference to the “drug supermarkets” which have been established in the neighbourhood, saying “any time they do it, we will close them down, within a sharp time, and we will prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”
The Chief Superintendent confirmed that checkpoints have been established around the area of St Mary’s Park to monitor the people who are visiting the estate from outside with the aim of purchasing drugs.
“Anyone who thinks they are going to set up there has another thing coming,” Chief Superintendent Roche said.
Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan said one elderly resident told him seeing the Garda raid take place was like “winning the lotto.”
But Deputy Quinlivan confirmed that a horsebox, which Gardaí had confiscated yesterday from outside a raided house, had been replaced almost immediately. “Unfortunately, this house is back up and running again. But that is the nature of the business,” he added.
He called on the council to demolish vacant properties, which are being used to store drugs, as soon as possible.
In response to this, Chief Superintendent Roche said: “In regards to that particular house, leave it with me. That’s all I will say for now.” He also said that Gardaí on the ground were deterring drug users from entering the area.
“Even when I was there yesterday, there were people arriving in taxis. And when they did, we ran them all,” he added, referring to the Garda operation in St Mary’s Park,” Chief Superintendent Roche said.
The Chief Superintendent said that including operations this week, Gardaí have “executed over 63 search warrants in that area in the last 12 months.” A figure he described as “astronomical” for one area which only contains a couple of hundred houses.