Ongoing Joint Task Force Operation

A Joint Task Force (JTF) comprising members of Revenue ‘s Customs Service, Naval Service and An Garda Síochána has implemented a co-ordinated operation at sea which resulted in the detention of a Panamanian registered bulk cargo vessel originating in South America, MV MATTHEW, in the early hours of 26 September 2023. A significant quantity of suspected controlled drugs were located onboard.

The interagency operation was conducted using Naval and Air Corps assets and interagency personnel, including the Army Ranger Wing, in challenging conditions off the south-east coast. 

After Army Ranger Wing personnel secured the vessel, members of the Irish Navy, the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) and Revenue’s Customs Service were transferred to the cargo vessel, which is currently under escort by Naval Ship to an Irish port.

The cargo vessel will now be the subject of a detailed examination by Revenue’s Customs Service and An Garda Síochána.  

This intelligence led operation was conducted in collaboration with the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre - Narcotics (MAOC (N)) based in Lisbon, and partners from the National Crime Agency (NCA), the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) and French customs service DNRED. Three males aged 60, 50 and 31 have been arrested on suspicion of organised crime offences and are currently detained at Garda stations in Wexford. 

MAOC-N is an initiative by seven European Union (EU) Member States: France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal, and also the United Kingdom (UK), with financial support from the Prevention against Crime Programme of the European Union, European Commission - Directorate - General Home Affairs. The Centre provides a forum for multi-lateral cooperation to suppress illicit drug trafficking by sea and air.

ENDS [26/09/2023]