Gardaí have seized €8.4million worth of cocaine after it was flown straight from crime series Narcos to Co Longford in a scenario.
Private light aircraft used in the operation believed to have been orchestrated by the Kinahan cartel were also seized.
The plane seized by Gardaí on Thursday is the second to be found this year by officers investigating drug trafficking – another was picked up in Waterford last February.
The Kinahan cartel is described as the “controller” behind one of the largest cocaine seizures of the year.
Gardaí said the plane, which landed at a Longford airfield, was being monitored as part of an intelligence operation carried out by specialist detectives.
They believe it is “very likely” that the cartel had previously used airfields in rural parts of the country to smuggle in large quantities of drugs.
“It is very unlikely that the cartel would use this method of drug trafficking into the country,” a source said last night.
“Indeed, international research has shown that the Kinahan cartel frequently uses light aircraft to smuggle drugs in various locations, including Africa.”
The private plane, which was used to transport €8.4 million worth of cocaine to Ireland, took off from a tiny airport in northern France on Thursday afternoon before landing at the remote Abbeyshrule airfield in Co Longford.
Undercover Gardaí watched as the drugs were taken from the plane into a single vehicle, which was then driven away in a convoy with another car around 5:30 p.m.
It is highly unlikely that this is the first time the cartel has used this method of drug trafficking into the country
The two vehicles were under surveillance and about half an hour later officers intercepted them on secondary roads in the Lough Owel area near Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
Two men aged 54 and 40 were arrested. Both have addresses in Ireland – in Waterford City and in Naas, Co. Kildare – and one of them is said to be Eastern European.
You were still being questioned at Ashbourne Garda train station in Co Meath last night.
All of the drugs were discovered in a car, where they were spread across six holdalls and a large suitcase.
“The suspects drove on secondary roads to avoid detection but were monitored at all times,” a source said.
Gardaí hailed the success of the Operation Tara seizure, saying more than €50m worth of drugs had already been seized in similar raids in Ireland this year.
A Garda source said yesterday they were working with international police partners as part of their investigation.
This is the latest major setback for the Kinahan cartel, after nearly €7 million worth of cannabis was seized in a separate operation last month.
A Garda spokesman said of Thursday’s Longford raid:
“As part of this operation, 120 kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of €8.4 million, subject to analysis, was seized along with several communication devices.
This operation has prevented a significant amount of dangerous drugs from entering our streets
“Follow-up searches were carried out at homes in Naas, Co Kildare and Waterford City and at a commercial airfield in Co Longford where a light aircraft was seized.
“Two men, aged 54 and 40, were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking in contravention of Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and are currently being held under the provisions of Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996 .”
Following Thursday’s seizure, Garda Deputy Commissioner Justin Kelly, who heads the Organized and Serious Crime Division, said: “This operation has prevented a significant amount of dangerous drugs from entering our streets and causing significant damage to our communities.
“An Garda Síochána, as part of Operation Tara, is committed to dismantling and dismantling the organized criminal networks that profit from drug trafficking, thus negatively impacting our society.”
Earlier this week, the Irish Independent revealed that despite sanctions against the leaders, the Kinahan cartel continues to ship millions of euros worth of drugs.
An investigation is trying to determine whether Spain-based members of the cartel arranged for €8.4 million worth of cocaine to be flown to Ireland after it was first flown into continental Europe from South America.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/like-a-scene-out-of-narcos-how-kinahan-cartel-has-been-using-longford-to-fly-in-millions-of-drugs-41893366.html Like a scene from Narcos: How the Kinahan Cartel used Longford to fly in millions of drugs