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Haul from drug busts doubles

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Mayo’s new drug unit seized over €1 million worth of drugs in 2020

Anton McNulty

Over €1 million worth of drugs has been seized by An Garda Siochána in Mayo in the last year – more than double the value seized the previous year.
The work of the new drugs unit in Mayo was praised by members of the Mayo Joint Policing Committee. Known as the Mayo Divisional Drugs Unit, it was launched on December 20 last and is headed by Detective Superintendent Joe McKenna.
Outlining the figures from the start of the year up to November 24, Det Supt McKenna explained that so far the unit, along with local gardaí, has seized €1,382,980 worth of drugs. In 2019, €680,970 worth was seized.
As part of the operations, gardaí have also seized €30,000 worth of counterfeit currency and €7,365 in ordinary cash.
Detections for the sale and supply of drugs have increased by 191 percent over the year, with 78 detections so far. Arrests for possession of drugs has increased from 111 last year to 222 this year.
The largest increase in detections has involved the cultivation of cannabis, with €1,101,900 worth of cannabis seized so far this year and the number of detections increasing from four to 16.
Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary led the praise in respect to the work done in targeting the drug trade in the county, while adding it is not time to get complacent.
“When you see the kinds of money taken in a small county relatively speaking, it shows the level of money involved and the level of danger involved for the gardaí. But let’s not get complacent either. We have to be continue to be vigilant,” he said.
Ballinrobe councillor Damien Ryan said that tackling the drug problem was the top priority for the JPC, and he welcomed the work of the new drug unit.
“There is no doubt that the resources that have gone in there, and the statistics we see show it is working,” he said.
Fellow Ballinrobe councillor Michael Burke also praised the work of the unit.
“We have had an ongoing virus for a number of years and I’m glad to see the gardaí have got a handle on this and we can try to solve the drug issue and take it out of the community,” he added.
Independent councillor Christy Hyland said he had been calling for increased resources in the drug unit, and that its success shows what can happen when the resources are provided.
“These figures now show the drug problem that exists in our county. It has to be of serious concern to all our citizens. The increase also shows that with the resources being put into the problem, the Gardaí will make it more difficult for the dealers to operate. It is worth noting that when the resources are put into a problem that success will follow,” he said.
The meeting was also informed that six gardaí are trained to carry out Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) profiling in the county, and at present eight people are being investigated by CAB in Mayo, compared to three last year.
Chief Supt Tony Healy thanked the members words of praise for the drug unit and added that as well as seizing drugs and making arrests, they were committed to ‘taking ill-gotten gains from people’ involved in the drugs trade.