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Suspected cocaine boat ran aground in Wexford after leaving West Cork

The rescue of two men from a fishing trawler off the coast of Wexford has sparked a major operation into suspected cocaine smuggling.

The gardaí, navy, and the Irish Air Corps were conducting sweeps off the Wexford coast last night in a bid to establish if there were drugs in the water near where the vessel ran aground. 

The trawler got into difficulty near Blackwater in north Wexford shortly before midnight on Sunday.

It is believed the boat was carrying a large consignment of cocaine and that it had left Castletownbere port before getting into difficulty.

A rescue operation that lasted several hours led to the rescue of the two men in a multiagency exercise involving the Coastguard, the RNLI, gardaí, and the navy. 

The two men, who are foreign nationals, were winched from the trawler onto a naval vessel and taken to safety.

It is believed the trawler was already on the radar of gardaí and the navy, who were tracking the vessel as it progressed along the south and southeast coast. 

A Garda spokesman confirmed that an operation was underway in the area last night, but would not comment further.

It is believed the men who were rescued from the trawler had been arrested and were being questioned in a County Wexford garda station.

Enforcement officers suspected that drugs were on the trawler or in surrounding waters and a search operation was launched.

Rough seas off the Wexford coast had made the rescue of the two men extremely difficult and also hampered law enforcement agencies in accessing the vessel to search it for drugs.

The trawler had been in Ireland for some time and had docked in West Cork, before making its way from there late last week along the south coast, then tracking towards Co Wexford where it ran aground. 

It is suspected it may have been headed for Britain.

The Coastguard says it is making contact with the vessel's owner about recovering the vessel and managing any pollution risk.

The Wexford operation comes just weeks after two large cocaine seizures were made at Rosslare Port, totalling €20 million.

Meanwhile, Revenue seized approximately 22.5kgs of herbal cannabis with an estimated value of €450,000 at Dublin Airport on Friday afternoon.