Customs Drug Watch and Law Enforcement
Customs Drugs Watch
Assistance from the general public is sought through the Customs Drugs Watch Programme. The programme encourages those living in coastal communities, maritime personnel and people living near airfields to report unusual occurences to Customs by FREEPOST or CONFIDENTIAL FREEPHONE 1800 295 295 or by e-mail to : firstname.lastname@example.org. This particular programme has been responsible for a number of significant drug seizures.
Revenue's Customs Enforcement Officers' job is to prevent drug smuggling and to apprehend people involved in drug smuggling activities. Ireland's quiet and rugged coastline provides drug smugglers with many opportunities to ply their trade. We patrol and watch these coastal areas but to cover such a large area, approximately 3,000 kilometres of coastline, help from coastal communities, maritime personnel and the yachting fraternity is crucial.
You can help simply by being observant, keeping your eyes and ears open and reporting any possible unlawful or irregular activity to Customs.
A 'Customs Drug Watch' booklet (PDF, 150KB) has been published which gives some ideas as to how YOU can help. These booklets are available from your local Revenue Customs Office, or from the Office of Customs Drugs Law Enforcement, shown above.
If you are suspicious about something, contact Customs immediately. Don't wait for office hours - speedy advice can mean the difference between interception and escape.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
Please lookout for the following;
- Yachts and other craft sighted in remote areas
- Crew making landings in remote areas
- Unusual objects at sea, underwater or ashore such as buoys or signalling devices
- Merchant shipping at anchor close to land or islands
- Ships away from their normal shipping lanes
- Ships signalling ashore or being met by small craft
- Vessels operating at night without lights
If you locate goods, do not disturb or mark the site, just note and report the location. Disturbing the goods could destroy evidence which may identify those responsible.
For your own protection, do not involve yourself in any incident.
Contact your nearest Customs Officer by telephone or FREEPHONE 1800 295 295 or by e-mail to : email@example.com
Try to avoid using radio to contact Customs unless there is no alternative.
Customs Drugs Law Enforcement
Revenue's Customs Drugs Law Enforcement
Revenue Customs officers have the primary responsibility for the prevention, detection, interception and seizure of controlled drugs, being smuggled into or out of Ireland.
Revenue Customs Officers, based at strategic points of entry to the State, report to their local managers within their individual regions. These managers in turn will report and receive drug related intelligence from Central Intelligence area of the Investigations & Prosecutions Division.
Revenue's Customs Drugs Law Enforcement, Investigations & Prosecutions Division.
All of the strategic management functions, relating to drugs issues, are attached to the Investigations & Prosecutions Division, which is located at Ashtowngate, Navan Road, Dublin 15.
These functions include: -
- Gathering of national and international intelligence and the dissemination of this intelligence as necessary. Since the creation of the National Freight Intelligence Unit we have seen a significant increase in both the quantities of drugs and fiscal product, which have been seized by Customs officers
- Management of the Customs/Garda national/regional liaison functions
- Participation in the National Inter-Agency Drugs Joint Task Force.
- Analysis of national and international drug smuggling trends,
- Research, planning and organisation of both national and international operations targeting drug smuggling and related issues,
- Liaison with other national and international enforcement agencies and Government bodies,
- Organisation and participation of operations at both national and international level, including joint inter-agency operations.
- Management of our thirteen detector dog teams located nationwide.
- Management of our Memorandum of Understanding Programme (MOU).
- Management of our Customs Drugs Watch Programme.
- Management of our Drug Precursor Programme.
Both the Customs Drugs Watch programme and the MOU programme are specifically referred to in the National Drug Strategy 2009-2016, and are an important part of Revenue's strategy and planning to achieve the National Drug Strategy objectives, listed under the heading of Supply Reduction.
National Drugs Strategy
The Revenue Commissioners are represented at the Oversight Forum on Drugs (OFD) on the National Drug Strategy, by the Assistant Secretary of the Investigations & Prosecutions Division and by the Principal Officer in charge of Central Intelligence, Investigations & Prosecutions Division. The OFD group, which reports to the Minister of Drugs, is responsible for reviewing the National Drugs Strategy and overseeing progress on the implementation of the drugs strategy and overall policy.
Under the Pillar of Supply Reduction listed in the National Drugs Strategy, the Revenue Commissioners are committed to reducing the volume of illicit drugs available.
Further information relating to the National Drugs Strategy can be obtained from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Website.
How can I contact a Revenue Customs Drugs Law Enforcement Officer?
The Revenue Customs Drugs Law Enforcement FREEFONE NUMBER (Ireland only) is 1 800 295 295. If you are unable to make personal contact, please use the attached Report Form which can be downloaded, completed and then e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted by FREEPOST to :
Customs Drugs Law Enforcement,
Revenue Investigations and Prosecutions Division,
Block D, Ashtown Gate,
Copies of the Customs Drugs Watch information packs are also available by calling the FREEFONE 1 800 295 295 number ore-mailingyour request to email@example.com from your local Customs Office.
SMUGGLING - DON'T IGNORE IT ! - REPORT IT ! FREEFONE 1 800 295 295 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Intelligence is gathered by Revenue with a view to identifying possible drugs smuggling routes in passenger and cargo traffic, the analysis of the movement of persons and goods on those routes and the profiling, targeting and routine surveillance of suspect persons or consignments. Their function also includes the transmission of intelligence and details of suspect traffic to the local Operational Unit and National Office for appropriate action.
Units act on information/intelligence gathered or obtained from various sources. Their function includes the examination of suspect passengers' baggage and freight consignments, the search of suspect persons, vehicles, vessels, pleasure craft, aircraft etc. and the transmission of information to the Intelligence Units for further action.
The Revenue's Maritime Unit is based in Cork.The units are equipped with rigid inflatable boats and two Revenue Customs Cutters, the R.C.C. Suirbheir and the R.C.C. Faire, and are staffed by trained Customs officers. The objective of the Revenue Customs Cutters is the prevention, detection, interception and seizure of controlled drugs, fiscal goods, arms /ammunition/explosives, prohibited and restricted goods, smuggled or illegally imported into or intended to be exported out of, the State/EU.
Essentially, they are our means of access to ships and yachts at anchor off our coast. We enjoy excellent co-operation with our Naval Service colleagues and the Air Corps who provide us with assistance for maritime operations. When not engaged in operational duties, Maritime personnel are involved in coastal intelligence work.
The Revenue Customs service deploy drug detector dog units at strategic locations, throughout the country, including our ports and airports. Each unit comprises a drug detector dog, a dog handler, and a team of support staff. The dogs have been trained to detect controlled drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy. In addition to the drug detector dog teams Revenue also have tobacco and cash detector dog teams.
These units are on-call, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, are mobile, and provide back-up to other enforcement agenices when required.
Measures to improve and structure the working relationship between Customs and Gardai were approved by Government and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by both agencies and appropriate operational and liaison structures were put in place.
These include a Joint Task Force comprising Customs, Gardai and Naval Service if required for maritime operations, which convenes for specific intelligence driven operations. There is nation-wide liaison at local level between nominated Customs and Garda officers in addition to the exchange of information between the Drugs Law Enforcement Head Office and the Garda National Drugs Unit.
There is ongoing liaison with the Criminal Assets Bureau, which comprises Bureau Officers drawn from the Garda Síochána, the Department of Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners. The Criminal Assets Bureau was set up to identify, seize and investigate assets derived from criminal activity.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Through the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) initiative, a programme of co-operation between Customs and the business community on the prevention of smuggling, in particular drug smuggling, we now have established working links with some thousands of diverse companies ranging from airlines, air express couriers and shipping companies to airport and harbour authorities, freight forwarders, exporters, road hauliers, chemical companies, yachtsmen and the list is still expanding.
The MOU programme provides for the training of company staff by Customs liaison officers to heighten drug smuggling awareness and practical advice is offered to help prevent vehicles being used to smuggle drugs and other contraband goods. In addition, company staff are provided with ready channels of communication with Customs.
A total of 46 agreements have been concluded. Ongoing co-operation from the trading community continues to be a contributory factor in combating Customs offences, in particular, drug smuggling.
Through the Precursor Programme a mechanism for co-operation between Customs and the chemical industry has been set up in order to detect the diversion of chemicals for illicit purposes.
Our Drug Precursor programme is designed to increase the awareness of customs officers and members of the chemical trade, alike, to the possibility of legitimate chemicals being diverted to the manufacture of illicit drugs. As part of this programme the Customs service now has dedicated Precursor Liaison Officers located at key areas around the country. These officers have been trained in the identification and handling of chemicals and are tasked with liasing with members of the chemical trade, with the purpose of identifying suspicious activity.
International Liaison Network – Revenue Officers assigned Abroad
Revenue currently has 5 officers assigned abroad who are directly involved in the international exchange of information and intelligence and work to Customs Division/IPD.
- Two Liaison Officers assigned to the Permanent Representation in Brussels
- One Customs Attaché assigned to the Irish Embassy in London
- One Customs Liaison Officer assigned to Europol Head Quarters in The Hague.
- One Liaison Officer assigned to the Maritime Analysis Operations Centre Narcotics (MAOC-N), Lisbon and also acts as the Customs Liaison Officer for Portugal/ Spain and Morocco.
Also at international level, Revenue's Customs Drug Law Enforcement officers maintain contacts with Customs and other enforcement Administrations throughout the world by means of international Conventions to which Ireland is a contracting party. In addition, a highly developed computer system, the Customs Information System, which links the Customs Services of EU Member States has been established to facilitate quick and effective exchanges of information regarding suspect movements of people and goods.
Through our membership of the MAR-INFO (Maritime Information) Group, comprising over 20 European countries, arrangements are also in place for the transfer of information on the movement of suspect containers, ships and yachts. September 2007 saw the establishment of a Law Enforcement Maritime Analysis Operation Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon which is an initiative of seven western European Countries (Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, UK and the Netherlands), specifically focused on reducing the threat of cocaine trafficking into the EU.
Additionally, the Customs service, with the assistance of the Irish Naval Service, engages in international maritime operations aimed at identifying, monitoring and intercepting vessels suspected of drug smuggling. Ireland is also a signatory to the europol Convention, which assists Member States in combating organised crime within the European Union. A Customs officer is assigned as a member of the europol National Unit at Garda Headquarters.
The pooling of intelligence between the agencies at national and international level accords with best worldwide practice and enhances the focus on counteracting drug trafficking and the dismantling of drug organisations. To date, operations involving the enforcement agencies have proved successful in the detection of drugs and the successful prosecution of the smugglers.
Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB)
Assets arising from criminal activity, particularly the drug trade, continue to come under increasing scrutiny and attack by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB). Revenue assists and co-operates in this work through the provision of experienced staff, the disclosure of relevant information and through close interaction and combined activities where this is required.
Drug Related Cash Detained By Customs
Drug related cash is seized under Sect 38 of the CJA 1994 as amended by Sect 20 of the Proceeds of Crime amendment Act 2005. The majority of drug related cash seizures are made at Cash export from the State, however increasingly seizures are also made at import and inland. These seizures continue to have a major impact on the activities of both national and international drug traffickers. Investigations are carried out through out the European Union and worldwide following a drug related cash seizure. Cash forfeited under this Act is transferred for the benefit of the Exchequer.
Customs Drug Seizure Reports
- 2005 - 2009 Total Customs Drug Seizures by value (PDF, 25KB)
- 2005 - 2009 Total Customs Drug Seizures by number (PDF, 26KB)
- 2005 - 2009 Total Customs Drug Seizures by weight (PDF, 23KB)
- 2009: Breakdown of Drug Seizures by drug type (PDF, 20KB)
- Map of Ireland showing significant Customs & Excise seizures in recent years (PDF, 100KB)
Last Updated: July 2010