Garda drugs chief says assets will be seized
THE head of the Mayo Divisional Drugs Taskforce has warned drug dealers in the county that they will be going after their assets.
The warning from Detective Superintendent Joe McKenna came following another high-profile detection of drugs in the county, which saw €80,000 worth of cannabis seized in Ballina on Friday evening.
The detection took place following the search of a premises in Ballina at 8.15pm on Friday, February 19, where €3,500 in cash was also seized.
Two people, a man in his 50s and a female in her 20s, were arrested at the scene. They have been charged with possession and possession for sale and supply and are due to appear before Ballina District Court on March 9.
The seizure of the cannabis is the latest in a line of significant drug detections in Mayo by the Divisional Drugs Taskforce in recent weeks.
Last week, a male in his 30s was arrested in Ballinrobe for possession of €80,000 of cocaine, while the week before that, three people were arrested in Balla for the possession of €70,000 worth of cocaine.
At the start of January, gardaí discovered €125,000 worth of drugs and a further €12,000 worth of cocaine in Claremorris and Kiltimagh.
Detective Superintendent McKenna told The Mayo News that the size of the seizures was not surprising to the gardaí involved.
The next step will be targeting the assets of the people making money from drugs.
“We will continue to work hard at what we do, and that will include targeting the assets of those involved in the drug trade. We have gardaí trained and working alongside CAB in Mayo, and we will be investigating the assets of people we suspect were bought through the proceeds of drugs.
“When you sell drugs you have to spend the money, and the type of things we will be looking at are high-powered vehicles, houses, expensive jewellery and clothing. We have already seized items last year, and we will continue to do that this year,” he said.
The Mayo Divisional Drugs Taskforce was set up in December 2019.
In its first year, over €1 million worth of drugs was seized by An Garda Siochána in Mayo, more than double the value seized the previous year.
Detective Supt McKenna said the success of the taskforce was down to good intelligence work of the members, as well as community gardaí who have become more experienced in drug detection.
While cannabis still remains the most popular drug of choice in Mayo, Detective Supt McKenna said cocaine was clearly the number-two drug in the county, lamenting that it seems to be socially acceptable.
“It is not just people in their teens or 20s but people in their 30s and 40s who find it acceptable to take drugs. Cocaine is very popular and has overtaken ecstasy as the number two drug of choice, after cannabis. It seems to be acceptable to take it, which is hard to understand, given people do not know what’s in it, and there is a high risk whenever you take drugs and how your body will react to them,” he said.
Detective Supt McKenna said the level of seizures of drugs in recent weeks shows that there is a demand for the drugs in the county.
He agreed that the lockdown has meant that drug dealers do not have the usual avenues of selling the drugs, and gardaí have been able to monitor known drug dealers more closely.
However, he noted that while they have been successful in making arrests, when there is money to be made, someone else is always there to take the dealer’s place.