Dáil Éireann - Volume 618 - 27 April, 2006

Written Answers. - Drug Seizures.

Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of seizures of cocaine, the volume of cocaine seized and the estimated value of the cocaine seized in respect of each of the past five years; if additional measures are planned to combat the spread of cocaine sale and usage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15669/06]

  Mr. McDowell: Data provided by the Garda authorities concerning the number, volume and value of cocaine seizures for the period 2000 to 2005, inclusive, are summarised in the following table.

Year

Quantity

No. of Cases

Estimated Street Value

kg

2000

18

206

1,260,000

2001

5.3

300

371,000

2002

31.7

429

2,219,000

2003

107.4

566

7,518,000

2004

167.3

753

11,711,000

2005*

242.8

1,045

16,996,000

*Provisional.

[1047] The National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008 addresses the problem of drug misuse across a number of pillars, namely, supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research, and implementation of the strategy across a range of Departments and agencies is co-ordinated by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The national strategy specifies a number of supply reduction targets for the Garda Síochána in terms of all drug seizures and the Garda continues to achieve considerable successes in relation to these targets.

The Government is aware of the increased prevalence of cocaine usage in recent times and efforts to tackle it are broadly based to include measures aimed at both supply and demand reduction, including awareness initiatives. The prevalence of cocaine usage is a matter of concern and the Garda authorities have taken a number of measures to address the problem.

The Garda national drugs unit and divisional and district drug units comprise resources dedicated to reducing the supply of illicit drugs, including cocaine. These units work closely with locally based units and specialist units, including the Criminal Assets Bureau and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Garda strategies are aimed at undermining the activities of organised criminal networks involved in the trafficking and distribution of illicit drugs, including cocaine. These strategies include gathering intelligence on individuals and organisations involved in the distribution of drugs, including the support structures underpinning this activity, conducting targeted operations on criminal networks based on intelligence gathered and working in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies both within and outside the jurisdiction to address the national as well as international aspects of drug trafficking and distribution. The Garda authorities advise that these strategies continue to result in operational successes, including successes against cocaine trafficking.

The Government’s top policing priority for 2006 is to continue to target organised crime, including drug trafficking, and the trafficking and distribution of all illicit drugs, including cocaine, at local, national and international levels will continue to be vigilantly monitored by the Garda.

The Criminal Justice Bill 2004, which is currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas, provides a comprehensive package of anti-crime measures which will enhance the powers of the Garda in the investigation and prosecution of offences. It contains an essential updating of our law to ensure that criminal offences, including drug offences, can be investigated and prosecuted in a way which is efficient and fair and which meets the needs of modern society. The Bill includes proposals to strengthen existing provisions relating to the ten year mandatory mini[1048] mum sentence for drug trafficking and for the establishment of a drug offenders register.

Question No. 22 answered with Question No. 14.