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Ireland. Revenue Commissioners. (2024) Revenue annual report 2023. Dublin: Revenue Commissioners.

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Identifying, targeting and disrupting illegal activity and organised crime is a key priority for us, and our enforcement teams achieved exceptional results during 2023 including 9,217 drugs seizures, with a value of €302 million, and 6,837 seizures of tobacco products, with a value of €63.4 million. (see also table 18 below)

Speaking about our highly effective frontier controls, Revenue Commissioner and Director General of Customs, Gerry Harrahill, said: “Our work against drug crime is extensive and multi-faceted, and the record breaking level of drug seizures during the year included a Joint Task Force operation onboard the bulk carrier MV Matthew in September 2023. This operation was undertaken in conjunction with our law enforcement partners and with the support of Naval and Air Corps assets and inter-agency personnel, and resulted in the largest drug seizure in the history of the State. During this operation, members of the Army Ranger Wing of the Defence Forces were authorised, for the first time, to act as Officers of Customs to effect a boarding of a vessel at sea. This operation is therefore an excellent example of the successful collaboration between Revenue and our enforcement partners, with all agencies working together to share intelligence and fully co-ordinate and utilise their respective capabilities and skill sets. Our risk-based detection and intervention strategy, supported by the most modern real-time analytical capabilities and techniques, enables us to adapt the way in which we deploy our assets and capabilities in response to the increasingly inventive and complex smuggling methods and concealment techniques used by those involved in trading illicit goods and products.”

P.9 During 2023 we seized 9,085kgs of drugs with an estimated value of almost €302 million. The significant level of drug seizures during 2023 included a high profile Joint Task Force operation which resulted in the seizure of over €157 million worth of cocaine being detected onboard the MV Matthew. Our work against drug crime is extensive and multifaceted, and we continually monitor trends and developments in this area to ensure that we deploy our resources and prioritise risk in the most effective way possible.

P.16 Seizures - 20,596 seizures of drugs and excisable products, valued at €382m 

P.42 Seizures - 9,085kg of drugs, with a value of almost €302m, seized 6,837; seizures of tobacco products, valued at €63.4m

P.43 We seized over 9,000kgs of drugs with an estimated value of almost €302 million during 2023. This included the seizure of 2,253kgs of cocaine, with an estimated value of €157 million, which was detected on board the MV Matthew in September. Additionally, we made 6,837 seizures of illicit tobacco products valued at over €63.4 million and seized over 287,000 litres of illicit alcohol valued at €1.5 million (report tables 18 and 19). 

P.48 We have primary responsibility for the prevention, detection, interception and seizure of controlled drugs intended to be smuggled or illegally imported into, or exported from, the State. Our drugs intervention approach supports Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy “Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery: A health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017 – 2025”. We deploy a risk-based approach to our detection and intervention strategy and work collaboratively with our national and international law enforcement partners to identify and dismantle core supply chains within the illegal drug trade. Smuggling and concealment techniques have become increasingly inventive and complex, and those involved have the capability and resources to adapt their methodologies quickly. This is further compounded by the scale and scope of international movement of people, vehicles and freight and the transnational nature of organised crime. Some of the more elaborate concealment techniques we have uncovered involve purpose-built hides within the roof area of refrigerated trucks and horse boxes, and a detection of cocaine which was impregnated in a consignment of charcoal. Our work against drug crime is extensive and multifaceted, and we continually monitor trends and developments in this area to ensure that we deploy our resources and prioritise risk in the most effective way possible. We work with our law enforcement partners to exchange information and share intelligence. On a national level, we work closely with An Garda Síochána, particularly the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB), in joint investigations and operations. During 2023, we participated in 82 controlled deliveries of drugs which led to 46 arrests, as well as 42 joint operations with the GNDOCB. We also have strong and strategic partnerships with international bodies such as the Maritime Analysis Operations Centre Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon, Europol, Interpol, the WCO and law enforcement agencies in other countries. During 2023, our teams were involved in 9,217 drugs seizures, as a result of which 9,085kgs of drugs with a value of approximately €302 million were seized. Details in relation to some significant operations conducted are set out on pages 49-52 of the report.

P.53 We target all stages of the supply chain within the illicit tobacco trade, identifying and targeting the smuggling, production, distribution, and sale of such products to achieve our goal of seizing same and, where possible, prosecuting those responsible. Our successes in this area are a result of continued co-operation and intelligence-sharing with other national and international law enforcement agencies, together with our counterparts in bodies including the OLAF, Europol and the WCO. Our advanced profiling and detection methods assist us in: • conducting analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, • developing and sharing intelligence on a national and international basis, • identifying and screening cargo, vehicles, baggage and postal packages to intercept the supply of illicit tobacco products, and • ensuring the optimum deployment of resources having regard to risk at points of importation and within the country. In 2023, our targeted actions led to the seizure of over 69.5 million illicit cigarettes with a value of €55.7 million (Table 19). We also seized 10,191kgs of tobacco with a value of €7.7 million. Details in relation to some significant seizures of tobacco products are set out on page 54.

Table 18: Drug seizures p.112

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