Drugs found onboard a cargo ship linked to the vessel stranded off the Wexford coast may be the biggest seizure of cocaine ever recorded here

Drugs found onboard a cargo ship off the coast of Cork, may be the biggest seizure of cocaine ever recorded here.The Army Ranger Wing, backed up by Gardai and the Naval Service, boarded the MV Matthew yesterday, with a number of warning shots fired during the operation.

The ship was brought to Cork Harbour where a large quantity of drugs were found onboard, the Irish Examiner reports the haul could weigh between 1.5 and 2 tonnes.It is believed the vessel is linked to a fishing trawler that was detained by Naval personnel on Monday 2 km off the Blackwater coast in Wexford.

Three men, aged 60, 50 and 31 have been arrested and are being held at Wexford Garda stations.

In a statement from Gardaí they say:

A Joint Task Force (JTF) comprising members of the Revenue Customs Service, Naval Service and An Garda Síochána have implemented a co-ordinated operation at sea, which resulted in the detention of a Panamanian registered bulk cargo vessel originating in South America, MV MATTHEW in the early hours of the 26th September 2023.

A significant quantity of suspected controlled drugs were located onboard.

The Inter Agency operation was conducted using Naval and Air Corps assets and interagency personnel, including the Army Ranger Wing in challenging conditions off the South East coast.

After Army Ranger Wing personnel secured the vessel, members of the Irish Navy, the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) and Revenue’s Customs Service were transferred to the cargo vessel, which is currently under escort by Naval Ship to an Irish port.

The cargo vessel will now be the subject of a detailed examination by Revenue Customs and An Garda Siochana.

This intelligence led operation was conducted in collaboration with the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC (N)) based in Lisbon, and partners from the National Crime Agency (NCA), the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) and French customs service DNRED.

Three males aged 60, 50 and 31 have been arrested on suspicion of organised crime offences and are currently detained at Garda stations in Wexford.

MAOC-N is an initiative by 7 EU Member Countries: France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal and the UK, with financial support from the Prevention against Crime Programme of the European Union, European Commission – Directorate – General Home Affairs. The Centre provides a forum for multi-lateral cooperation to suppress illicit drug trafficking by sea and air.

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