Two arrests after €8.4 million cocaine haul seized from plane on Co Longford airfield
GARDAI have said it is likely some of a seized £7m (€8.4m) cocaine haul believed to have been flown into a Co Longford airfield on a private plane could have destined for the north.
Two men, aged 54 and 40, were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking and are currently detained at Ashbourne Garda Station.
The pair were detained when gardai stopped two vehicles shortly after 6pm at two locations in the Lough Owel area of Co Westmeath.
In the course of the operation 120 kilogrammes of cocaine with an estimated street value of £7m (€8.4m) was recovered along with several communications devices.
The search was carried out by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau as part of Operation Tara - which targets the drugs industry.
Follow up searches were carried out at houses in Naas, Co Kildare, and Waterford city, as well as a commercial airfield in Co Longford, where the aircraft was seized.
Det Ch Supt Seamus Boland said that organised criminals operate on an all-Ireland basis.
"We had a similar incident back in February down in Waterford where a light aircraft was seized in the course of an investigation in collaboration with our UK colleagues, the National Crime Agency," he said.
"That was following a significant seizure of drugs in the UK when the aircraft then flew on and landed here in Ireland.
"It is not new for organised crime - it is something that is experienced across the rest of Europe," he told the BBC.
Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly, head of Organised and Serious Crime, said: "This operation has prevented a considerable quantity of dangerous drugs from making it on to our streets and causing significant harm to our communities.
"An Garda Siochana is committed, under Operation Tara, to disrupting and dismantling the organised criminal networks who profit from drug trafficking and impact so negatively on our society."