Europe

Dublin Port customs officials seize £3.6m cannabis haul

The cans and bags in which the drugs were found Image copyright Office of the Revenue Commissioners
Image caption The cannabis was vacuum packed and stuffed into cans of olives

Cannabis worth 4.5m euros (£3.6m) and bound for the UK has been found in the Republic of Ireland.

Customs officials discovered the drugs stuffed into more than 1,000 tins of olives in Dublin Port.

The 200 kilos of cannabis was divided into small parcels that were double vacuum-packed and hidden in 1,050 catering tins of olives in oil.

Customs officials said the drugs were seized after a "profiling operation" targeting cargo at the port.

Image copyright Office of the Revenue Commissioners
Image caption Customs officials said it was the first time they had seen drugs hidden with olives

'Overpowering'

The investigating officers believe the drugs arrived from Spain and were destined for the UK.

A Revenue spokeswoman said: "Investigations are continuing here with international inquiries ongoing in Spain and the UK."

Michael Gilligan, Irish Revenue's head of central investigations for tax and customs, said it was a sophisticated standard of concealment that indicated the level of the crime gang behind it.

"We've seen drugs smuggled in coffee before, but this is the first time we have come across it in olives," he said.

"The smell of the olives was overpowering.

"The whole focus of this operation was to make sure no drug dogs would detect it."

The cargo was planned to be loaded onto another vessel bound for a UK port before the Revenue intercepted it.

The consignment only came to light when officials became suspicious after using profiling techniques on the cargo.

They looked at documentation, the route it had taken, where it was bound, the weights of the tins and compared these with previous similar cargoes.

Four pallets of the tins, which were part of a wider mixed cargo in a 40ft container on the vessel from southern Spain, were isolated and scanned using mobile x-ray technology.

Officials then had to use tin openers to confirm the contents.

Irish authorities are now working with UK and Spanish counterparts to follow a paper trail in the hope it will lead them to the organised crime gang behind the smuggling attempt.

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