Cannabis, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine are some of the illegal drugs frequently smuggled to Ireland.
Largest Shipment of Illegal Drugs in Ireland
Two months ago, Irish authorities seized the largest shipment of illegal drugs in history. Law enforcement recovered more than two tonnes of cocaine after investigating a cargo ship off the County Cork coast.
According to Irish revenue officials, they made 7, 407 drug confiscations in September this year. Approximately, the total value of seized illegal drugs comes to €237 million. So far, €47 million have been destroyed already. A majority of the appropriations are cocaine, made from the leaves of the South American coca plant.
The coca plant (Erythroxylum coca) is a shrub native to South America, particularly Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador. It is widely recognized for being the source of cocaine – an addictive stimulant drug – with indigenous people using coca leaves for various uses over thousands of years.
Additionally, it’s used to alleviate hunger, fatigue and altitude sickness relief with mild stimulation effects. They’ve even become part of the cultural practices of some indigenous communities.
Coca and its relationship to cocaine production and distribution has caused considerable social, health, and legal issues worldwide. Production and distribution are linked with organized crime, violence, and addiction issues worldwide.
The seizure of the MV Matthew cocaine shipment worth €157 million from a South American cartel group was believed to be bound for Ireland. For this reason, many countries have strict regulations and laws concerning the cultivation, possession and trafficking of coca plants as a measure to combat the illegal drug trade and its related issues.
Destroying the Illicit Substances
Many are wondering how these illegal drugs get destroyed, particularly those in powdered forms, such as cocaine. Several EU member states use a general system to eliminate these illicit substances.
According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) scientific analyst, Tim Sumont, the procedures have a pattern to follow. First, there must be documentation of the seized drugs. Second, samples were taken for forensic evaluation. Lastly, after doing the first two steps, the drugs can now be destroyed.
According to Sumont, the destruction of illegal substances is done through incinerators for processing larger amounts. This is the method the Police Service of Northern Ireland used, burning controlled drugs at a safe location while adhering to all environmental requirements.
However, Sumont said authorities may encounter problems while using incinerators to destroy illicit drugs. Usually, they must wait until they have an adequate volume of drugs to incinerate. They must consider not only the cost of the incinerator because it doesn’t depend on the weight to be eliminated, but on the procedure itself.
Since cocaine poorly burns, most incinerators can only process a tonne or two every day. Due to this, drugs need specialised storage with all the related security risks and involved workforce.
Larger Seized Illegal Drugs, the Riskier
Seizing huge amounts of drugs is more dangerous than it sounds, just like what happened in the Port of Antwerp. Authorities can’t destroy them immediately, resulting in serious implications.
Last year, law enforcement seized around 110 tonnes of cocaine. Even if the Belgian government made haste in destroying the drugs, this didn’t deter criminals.
To address the situation, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) introduced a method called encapsulation. Cement, sand, water, and cocaine are then mixed to form concrete platforms for storage facilities in waste disposal plants. The cocaine can’t seep into the ground because the cement chemically react with the rest of the mixture.
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