Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 92 - Crime prevention [15739/05].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 92 - Crime prevention [15739/05]. (12 May 2005)

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92. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance  if an update study has been made concerning entry points into the State for illegal drugs; the routes now principally thought to be used whether by land, sea or air; if further steps are proposed to seal off these routes. [15739/05]

Minister for Finance (Mr. Cowen): The Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners has primary responsibility for the prevention, detection, interception and seizure of controlled drugs intended to be smuggled or illegally imported into the State. The Revenue Commissioners have informed me that the position in relation to the issues raised by the Deputy are as follows. Drug enforcement work is carried out with the assistance of other law enforcement partner agencies, both at national and international level. Revenue constantly evaluates the effectiveness of how it manages and deploys its enforcement, anti-smuggling, intelligence and operational resources to tackle the serious threat of drug smuggling. A crucial part of this process is the constant updating of intelligence at all levels of the drugs production and supply chain network, including current national and international drug smuggling routes and the smuggling methodologies used.

The Deputy will appreciate that detailed, confidential information-intelligence flow is required to ensure success in drugs interdiction. The principal entry routes used by smugglers attempting to illegally import drugs in recent years have been Dublin Port, Dublin Airport, Rosslare Harbour and also importations by the postal and express courier services. Revenue now has nine drug detector teams strategically deployed at our main ports and airports. In 2003, the Revenue Commissioners re-launched the customs drugs watch programme, which seeks to enlist the help of the public in the critical activity of reducing the supply of illicit drugs by notifying its officers on a confidential basis of suspicious activity at sea, land and air boundaries. Last year, Revenue deployed its first patrol vessel, the RCC Suirbhéir. Based in Cork but having a national remit, this vessel is actively engaged in drugs interdiction. There have been a number of significant seizures of drugs from pleasure craft and converted fishing vessels over the years and the patrol vessel Suirbhéir now enables Revenue to respond better to this ever present threat. Later this year, Revenue will take delivery of a mobile container x-ray examination unit to assist in countering the smuggling of drugs and other illicit products through containerised freight traffic. The Revenue Commissioners will continue to broaden and deepen its drugs enforcement work on an ongoing operational basis with other partner law enforcement agencies such as the Garda Síochána, Naval Service, Europol and other Customs services to ensure greater effectiveness in disrupting the illicit drugs supply chain.

Vol. 602 No. 3
Thursday, 12 May 2005

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