Drug and tobacco smuggling

Intelligence and operations

Intelligence is gathered by Revenue with a view to identifying possible drugs smuggling routes in passenger and cargo traffic. It is used in the analysis of the movement of persons and goods on those routes and the profiling, targeting and routine surveillance of suspect persons or consignments.

Maritime Units

Revenue’s Maritime Unit is based in Cork. It is equipped with rigid inflatable boats and two customs cutters, the R.C.C. Suirbheir and the R.C.C. Faire which are operated by trained officers. The objective of the 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 or the European Union (EU).

Image of Revenue's customs cutter, the R.C.C. Suirbheir

Canine Detector Dog Teams

Revenue deploys 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 has 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 agencies when required.

Image of Revenue's canine detector dog, Toby  Image of Revenue's canine detector dog, Chip

Co-operation between Irish enforcement agencies

Co-operation between Irish enforcement agencies includes a Joint Task Force comprising Customs, Gardaí and Naval Service if required for maritime operations. There is nationwide liaison at local level between nominated Customs and Garda officers in addition to the exchange of information between the Customs Drugs Law Enforcement Unit and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) initiative

The MOU initiative is a programme of co-operation between Revenue and the business community to prevent smuggling, in particular drug smuggling. We have links with thousands of companies, ranging from airlines, air express couriers and shipping companies to airport and harbour authorities, freight forwarders, exporters, road hauliers and, chemical companies.

The initiative provides for the training of company staff by Revenue liaison officers to heighten drug smuggling awareness. Practical advice is offered to help prevent vehicles being used to smuggle drugs and other contraband goods. Company staff are also provided with ready channels of communication with Revenue.

Precursor Programme

The Precursor Programme facilitates co-operation between Revenue and the chemical industry to detect the diversion of chemicals for illicit purposes.

The programme is designed to increase the awareness of both Revenue officers and members of the chemical trade to the possibility of legitimate chemicals being diverted to the manufacture of illicit drugs. Revenue has dedicated Precursor Liaison Officers located at key areas around the country. They have been trained in the identification and handling of chemicals. Their role is to liaise with members of the chemical trade in order to identify suspicious activity.

Next: International co-operation