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Boat impounded in €4.2m cocaine probe used by 'inexperienced seafarers'

Boat impounded in €4.2m cocaine probe used by 'inexperienced seafarers'
Chris McNulty 15 Aug 2023

Gardai are continuing to urge people in coastal communities and islands off Donegal to be alert for 'unusual activity'

A boat impounded as part of a Garda probe into the discovery of €4.2 million worth of cocaine on the Donegal coast was being used by inexperienced seamen.

Gardai have issued a fresh appeal to the public in coastal communities and islands to be on alert.

Large parcels of cocaine, weighing around 60kg and valued in excess of €4 million, were located off the Donegal coast last month.

The packages, wrapped in black plastic and bound with ropes, washed up at Ballyheirnan Beach in Fanad and Tramore Beach in Fanad on Wednesday.

A large search operation ensued while a fishing vessel was impounded at Magheroarty.

Sergeant Paul Wallace, the Crime Prevention Officer in Donegal, has said that people in coastal areas are easily able to spot unusual activity.

“People in coastal communities know best how to spot activity by inexperienced boat users,” Sergeant Wallace said.

“For example, the boat impounded at Magheraroarty Pier was being used by people who were not of seafaring experience

"The community is our eyes and ears, and they would notice people on boats that are not competent.

“We wish again to appeal to residents in coastal communities and Islands to be alert for unusual activities in their areas. We have seen the real evidence of how our coast can be used for drug importation.

“The summer season in Donegal marks a notable increase in the maritime craft activity of all types and this activity can also be used to ’mask’ criminal activity.”

The boat, a Cleopatra 38, is understood to have been advertised for sale recently. It does not appear as if the boat’s radar was operating in the weeks before the drugs consignment was discovered.

The drugs were packed into bales, encased in black plastic wrapping. One eye-witness said one of the packages was ‘the size of a suitcase’.

Gardai believe there could be further packages found.

Sergeant Wallace said: “We have seen the real evidence of how our coast can be used for drug importation. We usually associate this type of activity with the southwest coast of Ireland.

"However, what happened here last month has brought it home to us. There is possibly more of it about and is stuck in crevices along the coast.”

Residents or boat users with concerns are asked to contact their local Garda District Headquarters or use the Garda Confidential on 1800 666 111 or the Revenue Customs Drug Watch Confidential line on 1800 295 295.