Belfast Telegraph

Huge cannabis haul in olive tins

A massive haul of cannabis worth 4.5 million euro stuffed into more than 1,000 tins of olives has been uncovered in Ireland.

Customs officials seized the drugs at Dublin Port after a profiling operation targeting cargo at the facility.

The 200 kilos of cannabis were divided into small parcels which were double vacuum packed and individually stashed in 1,050 catering tins of olives in oil.

Investigating officers believe the drugs arrived in the capital from Spain and were destined for the UK.

A Revenue spokeswoman said: "Investigations are continuing here with international inquiries ongoing in Spain and the UK."

The concealment of the drugs was so sophisticated that the drug smugglers would have had to use a canning factory to stash each of the 200g waterproof parcels in the sealed tins.

The smell of the olives was enough to put a drug detection dog at Dublin Port off the scent.

Michael Gilligan, Irish Revenue's head of central investigations for tax and customs, said it was a sophisticated standard of concealment that indicated the level of the crime gang behind it.

"We've seen drugs smuggled in coffee before, but this is the first time we have have come across it in olives," he said.

"The smell of the olives was overpowering.

"The whole focus of this operation was to make sure no drug dogs would detect it."

The cargo was planned to be loaded onto another vessel bound for a UK port before the Revenue intercepted it.

The consignment only came to light when officials became suspicious after using profiling techniques on the cargo.

They looked at documentation, the route it had taken, where it was bound, the weights of the tins and compared these with previous similar cargoes.

Four pallets of the tins - which were part of a wider mixed cargo in a 40ft container on the vessel from southern Spain - were isolated and scanned using mobile x-ray technology.

Officials then had to use tin openers to confirm the contents.

Irish authorities are now working with UK and Spanish counterparts to follow a paper trail in the hope it will lead them to the organised crime gang behind the botched smuggling bid.

The cannabis will be destroyed.

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