Belfast Telegraph

Drugs worth seven million euro seized in international swoop

A seven million euro haul of cannabis and cocaine has been seized in an international police operation targeting the Kinahan crime cartel.

The drugs were recovered when industrial units near Ashbourne, Co Meath were raided on Wednesday by specialist garda units tackling traffickers linked to the organised crime gang.

At least 10 people have been arrested in Ireland and the Netherlands as part of the wider crackdown on the outfit.

Two men in their 30s were arrested at the scene of the multimillion-euro drugs bust, gardai said.

In Amsterdam a series of searches were carried out by Dutch police and five people were detained.

And in subsequent raids in Dublin's south inner city under Operation Thistle, which targets the Kinahan network on the ground, another three people were arrested.

A quantity of drugs, believed to be heroin, was seized in the city along with a number of weapons and suspected replica firearms, gardai said.

Several thousand euro in cash was also recovered.

Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll, who is in The Hague for meetings with Dutch counterparts and others at Europol, said a number of organised crime gangs in a number of countries may be linked to the wider operation.

"The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau has brought to fruition an operation targeting drug trafficking, which has an international dimension," he said.

"This has resulted in a significant seizure of cannabis herb and cocaine and the arrest of a number of suspects."

The top officer said the Irish and Dutch ends of the operation were coordinated.

The raids began on Wednesday in Ashbourne and continued on Thursday in at least nine locations in Dublin's south inner city and a number of places in Amsterdam.

Dutch Police said their end of the operation led to seizures of cocaine, cash, phones and computers while a number of Irish people were detained.

The Kinahan crime cartel is alleged to have operations in Spain, Ireland and other countries and has been embroiled in a bitter gangland war for several years which has claimed at least 10 lives, a number of them innocent victims.

Gardai have previously said that the unprecedented spate of underworld-ordered killings - as part of a feud between the Kinahan network and the Hutch family - was being directed from Spain, the Netherlands and the UK.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said : "The illicit drugs trade is a highly destructive international business and I am pleased to see An Garda Siochana continuing to partner effectively with law enforcement in other jurisdictions.

"This seizure is very significant and results from a great deal of painstaking work. I want to congratulate all those involved for their professionalism and dedication to duty.

"The effective policing operation will prevent these drugs from reaching the streets and harming individuals, families and communities."

Later, gardai said the Dublin end of the operation netted almost 400,000 euro worth of heroin, cocaine and cash.

During a search at a house at Kilmainham Bank, heroin valued at 25,000 euro and 6,000 euro cash was seized along with three imitation firearms.

A man in his 50s was arrested at the scene.

Heroin with a street value of 1,000 euro was found in another search at Basin Street and a man in his 40s was arrested.

The third arrest took place at McCarthy Terrace.

And in a fourth search, at Berry's Close in Inchicore, 3.5 kilos of drugs, believed to be heroin or cocaine and wrapped in plastic was found.

It has been valued at 350,000 euro. A car has also been impounded.

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