Saturday 22 October 2016

Dubliners sold drugs on 'dark net'

Neil Mannion was charged with possessing drugs worth €143,000
Neil Mannion was charged with possessing drugs worth €143,000

A Bitcoin trader and a film technician were involved in an online global operation described as "a new era in drug dealing", a court has heard.

Neil Mannion and Richard O'Connor (both 34) were charged with possessing drugs worth €143,000 following a garda raid on a business premises in south Dublin in October last year.

Det Sgt Brian Roberts compared the operation of selling drugs on the "dark net" to eBay or Amazon.

Mannion, of Mount Drummond Avenue, Harold's Cross, and O'Connor, of Clonskeagh Road, Clonskeagh, pleaded guilty to possession of LSD, amphetamine and cannabis resin with intent to sell or supply at Bank House Business Centre, South Circular Road, on November 5 last year.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Mannion had set up the online drug-dealing business and O'Connor was paid €600 a week to post the packages to customers in countries including Japan, Argentina, the Czech Republic and the US.

Judge Martin Nolan said he would deal with the case on Monday afternoon. He remanded both men in custody.

Det Sgt Roberts said he and colleagues placed Mannion under surveillance after receiving confidential information.

They followed his car to the business address and later obtained a search warrant.

Officers found Mannion and O'Connor on the premises, along with a holdall containing the drugs, a vacuum-packing machine, scales, envelopes and lab- els for posting.

Mannion told gardai the operation was "a market place . . . like eBay".


He took full responsibility for the drugs seized and described how he would post drug orders to different countries after trading in the digital currency bitcoin.

Mannion said he had not expected to get so many custom- ers after setting himself up in business online, and that "things just flew".

Det Sgt Roberts told the court that O'Connor, who is self-employed as a grip in the film industry, had a "secondary part" as he had only been involved with posting and packaging the drugs.

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