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Gardaí confirm cocaine found on board cargo ship seized off Cork worth €157 million

GARDAÍ HAVE ESTIMATED that the suspected cocaine found aboard a cargo ship boarded and seized by the Army Ranger Wing in a dramatic operation off the south coast yesterday afternoon are worth €157 million.

Speaking this morning, senior Garda officers officers hailed it as a “really good outcome” and said specialists had determined overnight that the weight of the drugs is 2,353 kilos. 

It’s the largest ever seizure of drugs in the history of the State. 

Elite Army Ranger Wing soldiers took control of the ship off the Cork/Waterford coast yesterday as part of a major drug smuggling investigation. Officers confirmed this morning that the probe was targeting a South American cartel. 

Members of the gardaí, Naval Service and Revenue Customs Service have been giving a press conference on the detention of the Panamanian-registered bulk cargo vessel, MV Matthew and the wider operation, which also focused on a trawler that became stranded off the coast of Wexford. 

Three people are currently in custody.

The haul yesterday represented the largest seizure of cocaine – or any illegal drug, Garda Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau confirmed at the press conference. 

Operations like this, he said, are aimed at disrupting global drug-smuggling networks. The seizure was carried out following support from the Drug Enforcement Agency in the US, the National Crime Agency in the UK and other international support, including the EU-backed Maritime Analysis Operations Centre and French police. 

Liam Geraghty of the Garda Press Office confirmed that shots had been fired at the MV Matthew in advance of the boarding to prevent the ship from manouvering. They were warning shots, fired into the sea, Geraghty said – and there were no indications that anyone on board was armed. 

The shots were sent into the water around the vessel in the moments before the Army Ranger Wing fast-roped from an Air Corps helicopter onto the deck.

Officers said this morning that while initial analysis put the value of the drugs at €157 million, the street value of the drugs could be far higher once the cocaine was cut with other substances.