Gardaí in the county have seized almost €750,000 worth of drugs so far this year
Cocaine is now the most popular drug in Mayo.
That was the reality conveyed by Detective Superintendent Joe McKenna at last Friday’s Joint Policing Committee meeting.
Cocaine has taken over from cannabis as the most used drug in the county, said DS McKenna, who has responsibility for major crime in Mayo.
After cannabis, ecstasy is third, followed by speed, said DS McKenna. After that, he added, come prescription drugs xanex and benzodiazepines, followed by LSD, heroin and magic mushrooms.
DS McKenna said that gardaí in the county have seized €713,586 in drugs in the first six months of 2021. They have also seized a total of €68,280 in cash from drugs raids.
In terms of drugs being cultivated or grown, gardaí have seized €85,696 worth.
The number of detections of drugs for sale or supply for the first six months of 2021 increased by 18 percent compared to the corresponding period for 2020. DS McKenna outlined there have been 52 detections to the end of June, adding there were two more detections on Friday morning last in Ballina.
In terms of what are called ‘simple possession’, that is people found with drugs for their own use and not for the sale or supply to others, there was a 6 percent increase, to 138, for the first six months of the year.
Speaking to The Mayo News after the meeting, DS McKenna said cocaine use permeates all stratas of society.
“It is not limited to poor, middle or upper classes. It doesn’t reflect any category of society. Every category is doing it. People might have had a perception in previous years that drug users were coming from maybe tough backgrounds. That’s certainly not the case anymore,” he said.
DS McKenna added people are often unaware of the dangers involved in the use of cocaine.
“What people need to remember is cocaine is cut using all manner of mixing agents. You don’t know what is in it or what strength it is. Do we know enough about our own bodies to know if it will agree with us? Often people get heart attacks.
“You don’t know how it will affect you. Cocaine is addictive and people come to rely on it.”
DS McKenna also gave details about a new nationwide garda campaign, Operation Tara, that was launched on Thursday last as part of the battle on drugs.
He said Operation Tara will be a joint effort, with gardaí drugs units working with colleagues in traffic and regular uniform to ‘dismantle and disrupt and arrest drug traffickers’. This, he said, ‘should see an even greater increase in drugs detections in Mayo and nationwide’.
He also asked for continuing support and vigilance from the people of the county. “We are thankful to people in the communities for their assistance. We need information, our operations work on intelligence coming into us,” he said.
He praised outgoing Chief Superintendent Tony Healy for ‘embellishing and developing’ the Mayo Divisional Drugs Unit, adding that while he would always ‘love more’ resources for the unit, what is there ‘is working well’.