Ireland

Third man charged in relation to huge drug seizure off Irish coast

Military personnel on board the MV Matthew cargo ship (Niall Carson/PA)
Military personnel on board the MV Matthew cargo ship (Niall Carson/PA) Military personnel on board the MV Matthew cargo ship (Niall Carson/PA)

A third man is to appear in court after being charged in relation with the seizure of almost 160 million euro (£139 million) of cocaine on a bulk cargo ship off the coast of Ireland.

Irish police said the man is expected to appear before Wexford District Court at 10.30am on Monday.

A total of 2,253kg of cocaine was found on the MV Matthew after members of the Irish Army Ranger Wing captured the vessel off the Co Cork coast by abseiling from a helicopter earlier this week.

Irish police have said the seizure was the largest in the history of the state.

Drugs seizure on cargo ship
Drugs seizure on cargo ship A cargo vessel named MV Matthew is escorted into Cobh in Cork by the Irish Navy (Niall Carson/PA)

Police believe the cocaine, captured on board the cargo ship after the dramatic military operation at sea, was destined for distribution beyond Ireland, potentially into the UK and continental Europe.

A fishing trawler that grounded off the coast of Co Wexford late on Sunday was also being monitored as part of the operation, amid suspicions it was en route to rendezvous with the cargo ship.

Two men who had been winched from that vessel were arrested and appeared before Waterford District Court on Friday.

Jamie Harbron, 31, of South Avenue, Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, UK, and 60-year-old Ukrainian national Vitaliy Lapa, of no fixed abode, were charged with conspiracy to import drugs.

They were remanded in custody to appear at Wexford District Court via videolink on Monday.

Five other men have been arrested in relation to the case.

One has been released without charge while the other four remain in custody.