The amount of drugs seized at Ireland’s ports and airports by Revenue customs officials has decreased by more than 400% over the past 2 years.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show the amount of drugs seized at four Irish airports (Cork, Knock, Dublin and Shannon) and three ports (Cork, Dublin and Rosslare) over the last few years. They show a sharp drop in the value of substances recovered between 2017 and 2019.

In 2017, nearly €48 million worth of drugs was recovered at the seven ports and airports. The following year, the value of drugs seized dropped sharply to €26 million. Last year, the total amount of drugs recovered dropped even more to €9.3 million.

Security analyst Declan Power believes there is a simple reason for the decrease.

“People are able to buy better quality drugs for less and I think this is reflected in the pattern of seizure being seen”, he said.

Cocaine is no longer the preserve of the super-rich, or even the vaguely rich, as it once was. And you are seeing this spread out at a lesser amount across the country, he said.

Revenue custom officials said seizures at ports and airports represent only a subset of those made by them every year. According to them, the main reason for the decrease in value of the seizures between 2018 and 2019 was because of three significant heroin and cocaine seizures in 2018.

Last week, four people in Dublin were arrested after gardaí seized an estimated €455,000 worth of cocaine and heroin. During a search of a car in the Ballyfermot area, gardaí found quantities of heroin and cocaine with estimated values of €175,000 and €70,000, respectively. The occupants of the car – two women (aged 18 and 22) and a boy (17) – were arrested. The two women remain in custody at Ballyfermot Garda station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking Act) 1996.

In a follow-up operation in the early hours of Saturday, gardaí seized further quantities of heroin (€140,000) and cocaine (€70,000) during a search of a residence in Dublin 7. An 18-year-old woman was arrested at the scene and is being held in Bridewell Garda station.

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