herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

No link to Irish gangs as €5m Coke haul left on beach for months

The cocaine haul is put on display by gardai. Photo: Irish Revenue Customs Service/PA Wire
The cocaine haul is put on display by gardai. Photo: Irish Revenue Customs Service/PA Wire

A haul of €5million worth of cocaine was left lying on a west of Ireland beach for months before it was seized this week.

Gardai do not believe a torpedo-shaped device containing the cocaine, which was discovered on a Co Clare beach, was destined for the Irish market.

Senior sources have revealed that gardai have "no intelligence" that our criminal gangs, including the deadly Kinahan cartel, would attempt to smuggle drugs into Ireland that way.

The drugs, seized by the Revenue Commissioners in Liscannor, Co Clare, on Monday were discovered on Kilmacreehy beach with assistance from a member of the public who was walking on the beach.

Discovery

The cocaine haul is put on display by gardai. Photo: PA
The cocaine haul is put on display by gardai. Photo: PA

The canister contained a massive 75kg of cocaine.

Revenue reported that it may have been attached below the waterline of a ship.

Gardai believe that the gang would have needed the use of "extremely experienced" divers to recover the haul.

Neither gardai nor customs officers have any information to link the massive haul to Irish gangs.

"This is the first seizure of its kind in Ireland. Everything needs to be looked at but no Irish link has been established yet," a senior source said.

The Revenue Commissioners said in a statement yesterday that it is not known where the drugs originated from, or their intended destination.

The cocaine was found in this container. Photo: Irish Revenue Customs Service/PA Wire
The cocaine was found in this container. Photo: Irish Revenue Customs Service/PA Wire

An unsuspecting Lahinch man said yesterday that he examined the exterior of the torpedo-like device "for a couple of minutes" on a remote Clare beach more than two months ago.

Yesterday, the well-known hotelier, Michael Vaughan admitted that he was 'shocked' and 'absolutely dumbfounded' to see the Revenue photos published of the canister yesterday confirming the drugs haul.

Mr Vaughan said that he examined the outside of the device while out flying kites with his family on a sunny Sunday afternoon on August 28 last.

Mr Vaughan said that he believes the canister - now found to contain 75kg of cocaine - must have been on Kilmacreehy beach "for weeks, if not months before we came across it as it would take a heavy sea to throw that up".

Meanwhile, in Meath, cannabis with an estimated street value of €2.7million was seized in a garda operation yesterday.

The discovery was made when detectives searched a number of vehicles in Ashbourne shortly after 3pm. Three men were arrested.

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