Drugs worth €1.5m intercepted in postal system during 2016
Criminals are increasingly trying to use Ireland's postal service to traffic drugs into the country, a Herald investigation can reveal.
There has been a massive increase in the amount of drugs being seized in the country's postal system over the last three years by customs officers.
Exclusive figures obtained by the Herald show that up until November 7 more than €1.5m of drugs were intercepted in An Post offices nationwide during the first 10 months of 2016.
The internet has become an increasingly popular way for people to buy drugs over the past three years, resulting in a spike in postal centre finds.
This compares with €72,890 worth of drugs stopped in postal centres in the whole of 2010.
Up until early November 2016, there was 617 seizures of cannabis worth €1,329,350 in postal centres while €146,282 worth of ecstasy and amphetamines were taken in 144 busts as well as just over €25,000 worth of cocaine and heroin.
The vast majority of seizures involve herbal cannabis being imported into the State from Spain and South Africa.
A Revenue spokeswoman said revenue officials have a "presence" at all main postal centres in Ireland, including Dublin and Portlaoise.
"Revenue has primary responsibility for the detection, interception and seizure of prohibited goods including controlled drugs intended to be illegally imported or smuggled into the State," she said.
"Revenue has anti-smuggling teams at all main ports and airports and at the main postal depots and our detection dogs work in tandem with these teams. The dogs can detect a variety of drugs, tobacco products and currency," she added.
"Packages received in postal depots are subject to risk profiling, post-clearance auditing and other post-clearance controls."
X-ray and physical examinations also formed part of routine checks by revenue staff.
Seizure figures for 2014 and 2015 were higher than for 2016.
In 2015, the figure was more than €2.5m in almost 700 busts while in 2014 it was well over €3.5m in at least 300 seizures.
Gardai believe some finds belonged to gangs experimenting with smuggling routes but most were from online orders.
Many parcels are addressed to vacant properties with an external mailbox that can be monitored from a distance.