Gardaí bust gang suspected of using rural west of Ireland location to mix and process cocaine

Gardai have busted a gang suspected of being secretly involved in the mixing and processing of cocaine at a rural location in the west of Ireland.

A suspect in custody tonight was previously on-the-run from gardaí in relation to violent offences.

In an intelligence-led operation, the garda armed support unit supported officers from the Roscommon community and crime units on a raid on three properties.

Benzocaine is a local anaesthetic used in pain management which is often added to bulk out cocaine for greater profits.

The searches happened at locations in the Ballinlough area of Co Roscommon this morning after local gardai received key intelligence.

The searches followed an incident where a suspect aged in his early 20s was involved in a chase with local gardai a number of days ago in a high-powered vehicle.

On that occasion, the suspect escaped from officers but following detailed local investigations gardai established who had been driving the Audi car and where the suspect may have been based.

This led to today’s operation in which a “compressor” used for the processing of cocaine into blocks was allegedly found in the vehicle that had been involved in the high-speed pursuit.

Also seized were a number of vacuum-packed bags suspected of being used for the potential distribution of drugs. A quantity of ammunition was also found during the raids but no firearms.

Early indications are that the suspect in custody is linked to a Limerick-based crime network.

Around €10,000 in cash was also seized in the major operation as well as another vehicle, a VW Golf GTi.

In a statement, gardaí said: “Gardaí seized cocaine, cash, cars, ammunition and a number of other items during searches at a property in the Ballinlough area of County Roscommon on the morning of Tuesday 20 February 2024.

“The searches, conducted as part of Operation Tara by Gardaí from Roscommon Crime and Community Engagement Units and the Armed Support Unit, targeted an organised crime group operating in the Roscommon area.

Approximately 30,000 of suspected cocaine, €10,000 in cash and an Audi S4 and a Volkswagen Golf GTi were seized during these searches.

“A man in his 20s was arrested at the scene and he is currently being detained at a garda station in Co Roscommon under the provisions of Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996.”

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