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Joint Task Force Co-ordinated Operation at Sea. 26th September, 2023.

Issue Date: 26th September 2023

A Joint Task Force (JTF) comprising members of the Revenue Customs Service, Naval Service and An Garda Síochána have 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 the 26th September 2023.

A significant quantity of suspected controlled drugs were located onboard.

The Inter Agency 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 Customs and An Garda Siochana. 

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 7 EU Member Countries: France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal and the 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.