THANKED PUBLIC FOR ASSISTANCE Detective Superintendent Joe McKenna.
THE head of the Mayo Divisional Drugs Task Force says the unit is changing tack, to focus on big dealers and their assets.
Detective Superintendent Joe McKenna, the head of the Mayo Divisional Drugs Task Force told members of the Mayo Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that since the start of the year, the taskforce has seized €394,000 worth of drugs, as well as €45,000 in cash associated with the drugs trade.
The task force is comprised of two sergeants and ten garda members. Since it was established in December 2019 it has seized €1.7 million worth of drugs. It is already poised to exceed the number of detections in 2021, with detections of drugs for sale and supply up by 75 percent on the same period last year.
Det Supt McKenna explained that because of the success of the last 12 months they are now ready to start targeting the main drug dealers in the county and go after their assets.
“There is huge work going in but our focused has adapted and changed in that we are now targeting the bigger teams involved in the sale and supply of drugs. We are reaping the reward from the good base work we did last year so now concentrating and focusing on the main suppliers in Co Mayo.
“On top of that, we are also focusing on accounts and property and assets these people may have. We are slightly changing our focus this year in that regard,” he explained.
Members of the JPC were informed that the drug of choice among the public has moved from cannabis to cocaine, with the majority of detections in 2021 involving cocaine.
Det Supt McKenna thanked the public for their assistance and intelligence. He added that threats by drug dealers to the family members of people who owe money will not be tolerated.
“We do work on intimidation offences and people targeted in respect to their families and monies they may own. If people have issues or concerns about family members or themselves, please contact us. We have already two cases before the courts and another two cases we are investigating, and we would only be too delighted [to follow up any report],” he explained.
The work of the task force was lauded by the JPC members, who welcomed that the Gardaí’s new direction. Ballinrobe-based councillor Damien Ryan suggested that a drug unit be based in Ballinrobe to tackle the cross-border trade of drugs from Galway into Mayo.
Chief Superintendent Tony Healy replied that the task force take an all-county approach to tackling the drug problem. He added that the gardaí in Mayo work closely with their colleagues in Galway and elsewhere to tackle the supply line into the county.
The members were also informed that uniformed gardaí from different parts of the county are being seconded into the task force for three months of training. When they return to their normal police work, Det Supt McKenna explained, they will have more experience in the area and be valuable to combatting drug crime locally. Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway-Walsh said the success of the task force proves the value of allocating resources. She said she hoped that extra resources would be given to drug prevention. She also called for family resource centres to be located in both Erris and Swinford to tackle issues affecting young people before they get involved in drugs.