As one man appears in court in Wexford today in relation to last weeks drug seizure – Questions have arisen over intelligence surrounding drug importation

A man is due in court in Wexford today, charged in connection with the 157 million euro drugs seizure off the County Cork coast. The discovery was made in a joint taskforce operation at sea on the MV Matthew last Tuesday.

He will appear before a sitting of Wexford District Court this morning. Four other people arrested remain in Garda custody. One man was released without charge on Saturday.

It was reveled last week that the two men that purchased the trawler that was subsequently sand banked off the coast of Blackwater in Wexford, told the vendor that they were using the trawler for a fishing trip.

The two men appeared in court charged with conspiracy to import drugs in Waterford on Friday evening.

Jamie Harbron (31) with an address listed at 26 South Avenue, Billingham, Stockton on Tees, UK and Ukrainian national Vitaliy Lapa (60) of no fixed address were brought from Wexford Garda Station, to a special sitting of Waterford District Court.

They purchased the Castlemore from a member of a fishing family in Casteltownbere, Co.Cork. The trawler had been on the market for three years and was being sold as it could no longer be used by the family due to strict fishing quotas in in the harbour town.

It is thought that the two men then took off for the UK but found themselves in trouble off the coast of Wexford.

This has prompted speculation from members of the fishing communities in Wexford to query if the largest ever seizure in the history of the state had been executed due to intelligence or ‘lack of intelligence’.

One source told South East Radio News that there are shipments of this size passing through unnoticed on an almost daily basis and the only reason that this shipment was intercepted was due to the lack of knowledge of the two men that bought the trawler in Cork.

According to our source, the practice of distributing drugs from a mother ship to smaller vessels at sea became a popular solution during Covid restrictions when exchanges on land became all the more difficult. The practice has since continued and become more prominent, leading inexperienced people having to take the helm of fishing trawlers.

Our source went on to say that the traditional fisheries in the county have been closed, boxing off sources of income for young local fishermen who have no other way of making money than to get involved in the importation of drugs. Local knowledge is one way that these shipments can continue.

‘I don’t know where we are going to go from here but this is the only game in town.’

Locals in the business who say that they have to adhere to strict codes of practice, inspections and pay for expensive licences, have questioned how two men were able to purchase a trawler and get out on the water with none of the above, in a matter of hours.

Suggestions to get on top of the current stream of drugs that is coming into our country include stricter regulations on anyone wanting to purchase or use trawlers and vessels at sea as well as stricter management on first engagers such as pilots and dockers and mandatory drug testing.

Some public representatives have said that this incident has highlighted the urgent need to strengthen the country’s maritime security and surveillance capacity.

Just two naval ships are currently available to patrol the country’s territorial waters due to a shortage of crews, with warnings that the lack of ships is leading to Ireland becoming a ‘soft target’ for organised criminal groups.

To top
Audio Wave Audio Wave Audio Wave Audio Wave Audio Wave Audio Wave