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Two charged after record €150m cocaine seizure off Irish coast

Europe's cocaine market is booming.
Europe's cocaine market is booming. Copyright Jernej Furman via Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Copyright Jernej Furman via Flickr/CC BY 2.0
By Euronews with AFP
Published on Updated
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A ship intercepted by the Irish Navy off the Cork coast was found to be carrying the largest shipment of cocaine ever seized by Irish authorities.

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Two men have been charged in Ireland following the country's record seizure of more than 2.2 tonnes of cocaine aboard a cargo ship, worth an estimated €157 million.

According to the police, this is the largest drug seizure ever made in Ireland.

According to the Irish public prosecutor's office, the two men, from the UK and Ukraine, are charged with conspiracy to import drugs.

Both were rescued when the fishing boat they were on ran aground on a sandbank off the south-east coast of Ireland.

According to the police, the boat was attempting to recover cargo from the Panama-registered freighter "MV Matthew".

The Irish navy had intercepted the vessel off the coast of Cork on Tuesday and discovered the cocaine, which investigators believe originated from a Colombian cartel and was destined for continental Europe.

Five other men from Iran, Ukraine and the Netherlands were arrested in the wake of the seizure.

This year has seen some of Europe's largest-ever drug busts, with shipments from Latin America in particular intercepted in numerous countries.

Customs officials in the Netherlands confiscated more than eight tonnes of cocaine in a single shipment in August. Thought to be from Ecuador, the haul was worth an estimated €600 million. 

One operation in Spain in August caught a nine tonne consignment of packaged cocaine hidden in a shipment of bananas from Ecuador. The packages were labelled with various brand names, as well as Nazi symbols, thought to denote the more than 30 different organised crime groups they were intended to reach.

Another 6.5 tonnes of the drug were intercepted by Spanish authorities earlier in the year, this time in a banana shipment from Colombia.

According to the European Union’s drugs agency EMCDDA and Europol, European criminal organisations are now collaborating more closely with South American cocaine manufacturers, including in the production process.

The continental cocaine market is estimated to be worth some €10.5 billion annually.

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