A yacht with 1.5 tonnes of cocaine on board was seized off the south-west coast today after authorities swooped on an international drugs trafficking ring.
Three men, believed to be European, were detained on the vessel, thought to be en route from the Caribbean with an illicit cargo worth hundreds of millions of euro.
The boat was being brought to shore in west Cork under armed guard after navy, customs and gardaí swooped in international waters.
The massive seizure compares to Ireland’s largest ever drugs haul – 1.5 tonnes and valued at €440m – recovered last summer off the Cork coast after traffickers’ boats capsized during a storm.
It is understood the Irish Navy brought three men to shore today where they were arrested.
The operation was based on intelligence from the Lisbon-based Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre set up to tackle drugs shipments across the Atlantic, mainly high grade cocaine, from South and Latin America.
Smugglers have also been using west Africa as a staging post before shipping to Europe.
Navy, gardaí and customs launched a joint operation targeting the trafficking gang earlier this week with the drugs bust lined up for several days.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said: “It is very important that Ireland plays its role in the work of the Lisbon centre.
“This bureau leads the fights against those trafficking cocaine into Europe and consequently into Ireland.”