We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Garda station in Dingle, Co Kerry Alamy Stock Photo
The kingdom

Cannabis and cocaine are 'drugs of choice' in Kerry, policing committee hears

Cocaine is now “not far behind cannabis” in Kerry, Inspector Hugh Twomey said.

CANNABIS AND COCAINE are “the drugs of choice” in Kerry, with cocaine use growing and now accounting for almost half of all seizures by the Kerry Divisional Drugs Unit, a meeting of the county’s Joint Policing committee in Tralee has been told.

Intimidation by drugs’ gangs because of drug debt was very much under-reported in Kerry, and huge sums of money were being made in drug dealing, the meeting also heard.

In 2023 drugs to the value of €600,514 were seized by the Kerry Divisional Drugs Unit – cannabis accounted for 54 per cent of this, followed by cocaine at 43 per cent, with the remaining seizures to do with heroin, amphetamine and other drugs.

The trend with a number of years is the growing use of cocaine; cocaine is now “not far behind cannabis” in Kerry, Inspector Hugh Twomey of the Kerry drugs unit said.

“That has been the trend with a number of years,” Inspector Twomey said.

Driving under the influence of drugs is also growing and now over one third of all driving under the influence detections relate to drugs.

“This has been an emerging trend. We continue to see that,” the inspector said.

Seven were detected over the May bank holiday weekend alone and so far in 2024 there had been 50 driving under the influence of drugs in 2024 – compared to 30 for the same period in 2023.

A new hand-held pocket device demonstrated by Inspector Gary O’Carroll had been introduced and was “a game changer” and it had made drug driving detection easier, the meeting was told.

The meeting also heard of the spectacular success of the Kerry Drugs unit in 2024 so far, with some seizures and detections by the approximately 12-strong garda unit crossing county borders.

Some €33.5 million of drugs seized by the Kerry unit, including €32 million of crystal meth in Cork port in February with the assistance of the Revenue Commissioners Customs.

Kerry Divisional Drugs Unit has enjoyed the highest value of seizures of any drugs unit in the country, the meeting heard.

“There has been massive success for us this year to date,’ Inspector Twomey said.

The unit had been targeting the north Kerry region and there was 100,000 of cannabis seized in Listowel area and 1.1 million of cannabis in Abbeyfeale in February, he detailed.

Meanwhile the gardai in Kerry are carrying out drugs awareness presentations to GAA clubs and secondary schools and the objective was to target young people before they got caught up in drugs activity.

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pa Daly, Kerry TD, asked if it were the case some drug dealers were making up to €50,0000 a week. He also asked for a breakdown on gender and age.

If seizures amounted to over €600,000 in one year in Kerry then this would indicate significant amounts of money were being earned from drugs, Inspector Twomey said.

There was no breakdown on age and gender but drugs activity was being seen across the board in terms of age and gender, Mr Daly was told.

Intimidation of families of users and dealers was a growing phenomenon in Kerry and was most likely under reported, the meeting also heard.

There was a wider range of drug debt and intimidation and some 20 cases of drug debt related intimidation had been reported in Kerry since 2022.

Support was in place for those being intimidated because of drug debt and families were urged to report such intimidation in confidence.

Chairman of the JPC Councillor Niall Kelleher (FF) said intimidation “is probably two or three times” more than what is being reported to gardaí and he would encourage people to come forward.

Killarney Councillor and hotelier Niall O’Callaghan urged business people to report any drugs related activity they spotted to gardaí.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.