Irish customs officers have seized 2,253 kilogrammes of suspected cocaine worth 157 million euro from a cargo vessel off the southeast coast of Ireland.
An elite special forces unit stormed the Panamanian cargo ship suspected of carrying significant amounts of drugs in a major operation on Tuesday, September 26.
The large vessel was reportedly attempting to flee when the Naval Service closed in on it off the Cork coast.
Arrests have been made
Two men from the UK and eastern Europe have since been arrested.
At a press conference in Dublin on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Irish police service An Garda Siochana said: ‘This is the largest drug seizure in the history of the State.’
Speaking to the media, Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly described the action as ‘hugely significant’.
‘These groups are transnational groups’
Mr Kelly, from the Organised and Serious Crime Unit, said: ‘It shows our unrelenting determination to disrupt and dismantle networks, which are determined to bring drugs into our country.
‘These groups are transnational groups. They are working all across the world and, because of that, we need to work with our international partners.’
Commander Tony Geraghty, fleet operations officer of the Irish Naval Service, said: ‘There was an extremely complex joint operation involving the Naval Service, the Air Corps, the Army Ranger Wing and Defense Force headquarters.
‘And then it was even more complex by environmentals that we had no control over. The weather was extremely poor.
‘And also we were trying to predict the actions of the number of crime gangs and how that would impact on us.
‘It was very successful from a Defense Force point of view, it showed the ability we have to operate in the joint environment.’
He added: ‘The merchant ship refused to follow the instructions of our own ship.
‘So this was prior to the insertion of the Army Ranger Wing.
‘There was an escalated use of force used to compel the vessel to follow the instructions of the ship’s captain.’
He said a ‘great deal skill’ was demonstrated by the Army Ranger Wing and helicopter pilot during high winds.
Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly said, while the value of the seized drugs was assessed as 157 million euro upon seizure, the value could have increased depending on what would have happened had it entered other markets.