A major drug trafficking outfit recently hit by the Criminal Assets Bureau is suspected of being behind the importation of a massive haul of cocaine intercepted by Garda gang units.

This outfit is linked to the Kinahan crime cartel which may have organised the supply of the 40kgs of cocaine from mainland Europe to the Dublin- and Meath-based network.

The haul, with an estimated street value of around €2.8 million, was one of five unrelated operations on Thursday resulting in drug seizures and arrests in Dublin, Cork and Limerick.

The gang hit by the major cocaine haul is based around an extended family. It has bought numerous sites in County Meath and was last month targeted by CAB.

The scale of the seizure, which was made in west Dublin, is one of the biggest hauls of the year. The seizure was the result of an operation by the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and the Special Crime Task Force.

Assistant Commissioner for Special Crime Operations, John O’Driscoll, said that two vehicles had parked up at Liffey Valley in north Clondalkin at around 7.30pm on Thursday. One of the cars had Dutch registration and the other had Irish plates.

When the garda units swooped they arrested four people. A Dutch national and his girlfriend, a national of the Dominican Republic, were in one car and a Dubliner and a man from Meath occupied the second vehicle.

The cocaine was contained in plastic tubs and AC O’Driscoll said their allegation is that the two people in the Dutch-registered car were in possession of the drugs and were transferring the plastic tubs to the other people.

In a follow-up search of a house in County Meath, some €50,000 cash was recovered.

It comes just one month after an even bigger interception of cocaine – when 66kgs of the drug (with a street value of €4.6m) was recovered at Rosslare Port. That consignment was coming into the country and was seized in a joint operation by DOCB and Customs.

In separate operations on Thursday, €200,000 worth of cannabis resin was seized by local gardaí in Finglas, north Dublin, while, in a second DCOB operation, €800,000 worth of cannabis herb was recovered in Rathcoole, west Dublin. One arrest was made in each of those operations.

Earlier, gardaí in Mallow, Co Cork uncovered a cannabis grow house in the Kanturk area and recovered cannabis plants and herb worth around €44,000. A stun gun was also seized during this operation. Before that, Limerick gardaí recovered 1kg of cocaine and €10,000 in cash.

AC O’Driscoll said there is increased demand for drugs, particularly cocaine, because of the Christmas party period and because of a general improvement in the economy.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, during routine operations, Revenue officers in Dublin Port seized 68kgs of herbal cannabis with an estimated street value of €1.36 million.

40kgs of cocaine found in one of five drug hauls

Using Revenue’s mobile x-ray scanner and with assistance of detector dog, Meg, the drugs were found concealed in a consignment of goods which had arrived into Dublin Port originating in Spain.

Investigations are ongoing.

Separately, yesterday morning, in an intelligence led operation, Revenue officers seized approximately 12,000 unstamped cigarettes, with the assistance of Gardaí and Revenue detector dog Bill.

The illegal tobacco products, branded ‘Excellence’ and ‘NZ’, were uncovered during a search carried out, under warrant, of two residential properties in the Dundalk area.

The retail value of the contraband is over €8,000, representing a potential loss to the Exchequer of €6,500.

A woman in her 20s and a man in his 40s were interviewed and a file is being prepared with a view to prosecution.

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