Aircraft and €8m in drugs seized at airport as gardaí target west Dublin gang
Two men have been arrested in the intelligence-led operation targeting a family-based drugs gang dealing in heroin
The seizure, which is the second of its kind involving a small aircraft in the Republic in recent years, was made at Weston Airport, which is located between Leixlip, Co Kildare, and Lucan, Co Dublin. The drugs haul is the largest seized by gardaí this year.
Two men, in their 40s and 60s, have been arrested, with one of the men found on the plane and the other close by in a 4X4 vehicle, which has also been seized. It is understood the men are from Hungary and were working with Irish criminals to bring the heroin into the Republic for the domestic market.
Gardaí found the drugs in bags on the plane before midday.
The arrest of the men, and the seizure of the heroin and impounding of the aircraft, resulted from an intelligence-led operation by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) and the Revenue Customs Service.
Gardaí also liaised with international law enforcement and with the Maritime Analysis Operations Centre, which coordinates operations aimed at combating international drug smuggling.
Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly, of the Organised & Serious Crime section of the Garda, said the operation underlined the importance of international law enforcement co-operation.
“This is a hugely significant seizure of heroin, and the importance of disrupting criminal networks supplying this type of drug into our communities has been reinforced by the recent wave of overdoses in Dublin city centre,” he said. “Worldwide, law enforcement agencies are seeing an increasing use of general aviation, non-commercial flights, to smuggle drugs.”
The drugs are believed to have been smuggled into Ireland by a family-based gang from west Dublin, which has accrued significant wealth through heroin dealing. Though it has links to the Kinahan cartel, it is regarded as the Irish gang to profit most from the pressure brought to bear by gardaí on the Kinahans’ operations in Ireland over the last six years.
The leaders of the gang have been targets of the Garda national units for decades and some of them have served prison sentences in both Ireland and Europe. The gang was linked to major seizures of drugs and cash in the Republic during the pandemic years.
Its leaders have also been under investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau, whose inquiry has centred on an asset-rich business controlled by the senior gang figures as well as their personal wealth.
While the gang has proven very resilient in the face of significant Garda strikes against them, gardaí believe Friday’s seizure was so large it represents a significant blow to its operation.
In a statement, gardaí said they were “targeting transnational organised crime” when making the seizure, which occurred on Friday morning.
“Two males have been arrested on suspicion of organised crime activity and are currently detained under the provisions of Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006, at a Garda station in Co Kildare,” the Garda said, adding the investigation was ongoing.