Ireland

Eighth man to appear in court in relation to €160 million cocaine haul

Workmen continue to search the MV Matthew cargo ship at Marino Point in Co Cork after it was seized by authorities. Tuesday, October 3. (Niall Carson/PA)
Workmen continue to search the MV Matthew cargo ship at Marino Point in Co Cork after it was seized by authorities. Tuesday, October 3. (Niall Carson/PA) Workmen continue to search the MV Matthew cargo ship at Marino Point in Co Cork after it was seized by authorities. Tuesday, October 3. (Niall Carson/PA)

An eighth man has been charged by gardai investigating the discovery of more than 2,000kg of cocaine on a bulk cargo ship off the south Irish coast last week.

A total of seven men have so far appeared before several district courts charged in relation to what Irish authorities have called Ireland’s largest ever drugs haul.

Cocaine with an estimated value of €160 million (£139 million) was found on the Panamanian registered vessel MV Matthew in a major operation involving the Irish army and Gardaí.

Gardaí said on Wednesday evening they had arrested and charged another man in relation to their investigation.

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The man is due to appear before Midleton District Court in Co Cork on Thursday morning at 10.30am.

On Tuesday, four men appeared before Mallow District Court charged with possessing drugs on September 24 for the purpose of supplying them within the Irish State.

Drugs seizure on cargo ship
Drugs seizure on cargo ship The MV Matthew cargo ship at Marino Point in Co Cork (Niall Carson/PA)

Cumali Ozgen, a 48-year-old with an address in the Netherlands; Saeid Hassani, a 37-year-old Iranian national; Mykhalio Gavryk, a 30-year-old Ukrainian national; and Vitaliy Vlasoi, a 31-year-old Ukrainian national, all face the same charge.

Armed Gardaí were stationed outside the courthouse ahead of the accused men’s appearances.

On Monday, Soheil Jelveh, a 50-year-old Iranian national of no fixed abode who has been referred to as a ship captain, appeared before Wexford District Court charged with various offences in relation to the seizure.

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 coast by abseiling from a helicopter.

Police believe the cocaine, seized 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 days before the seizure 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 also appeared before Wexford District Court on Monday.

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