Some 35-million euro ($41.4 million) worth of cocaine was blocked entry into Europe as the continent beefs up its efforts to crack down on illegal drugs.
In a joint operation, Irish and Dutch authorities, with the help of sniffing dogs and x-ray scanners have seized some 2,000 bags of drugs found inside two shipping containers bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
According to a report from CNN quoting a press release from the Garda Síochána, Ireland’s national police and security service, the drugs were from South America.
The Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) later confirmed that cocaine was present, but it “will take a number of days and perhaps longer for FSI to extract the cocaine from the product within which it is concealed.”
As part of the ongoing investigation of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, arrests will follow once the probe has been done.
“This is a significant development in the Garda Síochána’s effort to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups suspected to be involved in the importation of cocaine and other drugs into Ireland,” Garda Siochana Assistant commissioner John O’Driscoll was quoted as saying.
He underscored the operation’s “significant international dimension” as well as the “importance of cooperation within the law enforcement community within Europe and further afield.”
Meanwhile, Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre head Michael O’Sullivan said that the seizure was “a massive seizure” that will “deal a huge blow to the organized crime group involved.” The Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre coordinates anti-drug trafficking operations by European Union countries, including Ireland.
O’Sullivan said in an interview with Irish broadcaster RTE that Irish crime groups play a leading role in the importation of cocaine to Europe, where the market for the drug is estimated to be at 14 billion euros or $16.6 billion.
Just recently, Spanish authorities made a similar seizure of some 862 kilograms (1,900 pounds) of cocaine disguised as charcoal.
The force said last month that a “complex chemical process” was used to give the drugs “a very similar form and colour” as charcoal and “eliminating the characteristic smell of cocaine.”