Multi-agency response to drug shipment executed with “maximum skill” – Browne

Published on: 27 September 2023

The Minister of State at the Department of Justice James Browne has commended the “swift and extreme professionalism” demonstrated by Irish law enforcement and protection agencies following the major drug seizure which began off the coast of Wexford. 
Minister Browne said: “This operation began off the Wexford coast and our Gardaí, Defence Forces and intelligence personnel acted swiftly, demonstrating maximum skill in responding to this incident. 
“I want to pay tribute to An Garda Síochána, the Revenue Customs Service, the Naval Service, the Coast Guard, the Air Corps and the Army Ranger Wing for the bravery and service they have shown in securing a €157m drug haul, the largest in the history of the State. 
“We now know a smaller trawler sailed from Castletownbere in west Cork on Friday night, which gardaí believe was to be used to receive deliveries of drugs from the much larger trawler, ran aground off the coast of Blackwater in County Wexford on Sunday. Two men were retrieved from the ship by the Irish Coast Guard. This would later lead to the seizure of the large ship now in custody in Cork, having been boarded by an Army Ranger Wing team which descended on the ship in a joint operation involving the LÉ William Butler Yeats and Air Corps helicopters. 
“This was a complex, intelligence-led operation that was conducted in collaboration with the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre - Narcotics (MAOC (N)). I visited this facility as Minister in Lisbon to see first-hand how it’s intelligence gathering and critical international partnerships can support countries like in Ireland in combatting international drug smuggling. 
“Gardaí have worked closely with these officials and colleagues across Europe to deliver this strike against organised crime. Gangs are continually targeting Ireland and the rest of Europe with illegal drug distribution and we must continue to support and secure our national security. 
“Gardaí and our frontline agencies operating in communities know all too well the damage these drugs can do when they take hold of our citizens, and young people in particular. Securing our borders, policing our maritime area and engaging at the highest-levels in intelligence-led operations is crucial to our national security. 
“I recently attended a series of meetings in European capitals with Justice and Home Affairs Ministers to discuss greater opportunities for co-operation on policing matters. The successes and professionalism of An Garda Síochána is well recognised internationally and we can all be proud of how our agencies performed this week,” concluded Minister Browne.