A major bust of a drugs-mixing facility in Dublin is expected to disrupt cocaine supply chains, a senior Garda has said.
Six people remain in custody after cocaine with an estimated street value of 2.8 million euro and thousands of nitrous oxide cannisters were seized in a multi-agency Garda operation in the capital.
It is understood that Gardai suspect the large haul is connected to the Kinahan organised crime group.
Gardai said that the premises searched was a cocaine-mixing facility, and the seizure has the potential to seriously disrupt drug supply chains.
On Tuesday, Gardai carried out a planned search at a business premises in the Long Mile Road area and two vehicles were intercepted in the Ballyfermot and Blanchardstown areas.
Around 40kg of suspected cocaine, 7,000 canisters of nitric oxide, and 78,000 euro in cash was seized at what Gardai said was a cocaine-mixing facility.
A hydraulic drugs press, 250 kilos of mixing agent, drug mixing paraphernalia, a money counter and several communications devices were also seized.
Seven men and a woman, in their late 20s to early 50s, were arrested in relation to drug trafficking and were detained, pursuant to the provisions of Section 2 of Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996, at Garda stations in Dublin.
Two of the men were later released without charge; the other six are still being interviewed at Garda stations.
Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly, of the Organised and Serious Crime unit, said on Wednesday that the seizure would have “serious effects” on the distribution of drugs in Ireland.
“A significant cocaine-mixing facility that has been taken out of action,” he told reporters.
“Within that premises, we recovered 2.8 million euros street value of cocaine. We also recovered 78,000 in cash, a substantial amount of equipment used in the mixing of cocaine, including 250 kilos of mixing agent an industrial press, a money counter, and a substantial quantity of cash.
“This operation has demonstrated An Garda Siochana’s determination to disrupt cocaine supply lines and distribution networks within this country by transnational organised crime groups.
“Last week, Commissioner Drew Harris and myself were in Washington DC, where we met senior members of the Drugs Enforcement Administration to discuss how we coordinate and counter our work targeting organised criminal groups.
“And only yesterday I was in London, where I met the Deputy Director General of the National Crime Agency and similarly, I discussed how we would target and coordinate our activities between Ireland and the UK.
“It is of note that also in yesterday’s operation, as well as recovery of the cocaine, we also recovered almost 7,000, large quantity cylinders of nitrous oxide.
“Nitrous oxide is a substance that has been abused by young people in this country, and in other jurisdictions we have seen this has led to deaths and serious harm.
“It is a particular concern to us that the same organised crime groups that are involved in the importation and distribution of cocaine are also involved now in the distribution of nitrous oxide.”
He added that he believes this would have an impact on drugs distribution and said An Garda Siochana are extending their links in other countries in order to target more senior figures.
“We’ve got people now in various countries around the world, including Bogota, Colombia, who are working to help us target these types of groups.
“We’re shortly going to extend that network – we’re going to put people in the United Arab Emirates and in Thailand.”
He added: “I think the dismantling of a distribution network really puts groups like that back.
“Because it takes substantial effort for them to re-establish those networks, and re establish supply lines – in particular, when we arrest people who are at that level.
“And that’s why operations like yesterday’s, they take a lot of effort, time, resources of An Garda Siochana, but that’s the level that we’re targeting.”
The operation was carried out by Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau, supported by the Special Crime Task Force and the Garda Dog Unit and two Divisional Drug Units as part of Operation Tara, which aims to protect communities from illicit substances.