Mayo’s top Garda officer has issued a stark warning in relation to the level of drugs in the county after more than €1m worth of cannabis and cocaine, counterfeit cash and ammunition were seized in less than six months.
Chief Supt Tony Healy, who set up the Mayo Drugs Task Force last December, said it would be “naive to think drugs are not available in every corner” of the county.
His comments come after a large-scale Garda operation in the Ballina area discovered a mixture of cannabis and cocaine, valued at €330,000, last Thursday. A cannabis growhouse with plants valued at €265,000 was found in Attymass; €30,000 worth of cannabis herb was found in a garden shed in Ballina, cannabis, cocaine and steroids valued at €27,000, as well as ammunition, were found in a home in Ballina and cocaine, valued at €11,000, was seized from a third house, also in Ballina town.
Local gardaí described it as “one of the most significant drugs finds” ever in the town.
While the seizures will make a large dent in Ballina’s supply chain of drugs, Chief Supt Healy said it will only be “for the time being”.
“It’s like any consumer-led production – where there’s a demand, there’s a supply. Ballina is typical of most towns now in Ireland.”
Since the task force, with two sergeants and seven gardaí, came into existence in December, 75 premises and 414 people have been searched with €1.132m worth of cannabis seized.
Cocaine, with an estimated street value of €41,950, ecstasy worth €3,400, ketamine valued at €1,500 and heroine with a street value of €600 have also been seized along with €13,000 in cash. Counterfeit currency – €20,000 and €6,000 worth of sterling – was also found, and 40 people have been arrested.
“It demonstrates that setting up a unit and having young, dynamic guards working full-time on drugs works well,” said Chief Supt Healy. “It’s an ongoing operation; there has been a lot done but there’s more to do.”
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