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The scene of the arrest of the men by gardaí in Leap yesterday.
Organised Crime

Naval divers deployed to search the seabed off West Cork for 'substantial' drugs haul

It comes just 24 hours after 10 men, understood to be Irish, English, Spanish and Dutch were arrested by specialist gardaí near Skibbereen in West Cork.


IRISH NAVAL DIVERS have been called in to search the seabed off an isolated West Cork beach for a “substantial” stash of dumped cocaine as investigations are continuing into an international drug smuggling operation.

It comes just 24 hours after 10 men, understood to be Irish, English, Spanish and Dutch were arrested by specialist gardaí near Skibbereen in West Cork. 

It is understood that specialist gardaí were on duty near a pier at Tragumna Beach near the village of Leap in recent days.

The Journal has learned that they were working on an intelligence led job to corner an international crime group as they landed a large quantity of drugs, believed to be cocaine. 

It has now emerged that the drugs may have been already been dropped off the coast and it is suspected that the group were set to go and retrieve the haul.

They were at the location in a camper van and a car. Nearby also was a large articulated truck which was, gardaí suspect, about to move the giant haul. 

It is understood a rigid hulled inflatable boat was also at the isolated pier.  

Sources have said that gardaí feared their operation had been compromised and immediately gave the order to move in and arrest the men.

As armed gardaí moved into position the gang travelled by road towards Leap where they were cornered and arrested.

It has now emerged that both the Naval Service and the Irish Air Corps have been called in to assist gardaí in their efforts to find the drugs haul. The Navy will provide divers to search the sea bed and the Air Corps will provide specialist surveillance equipment. 

Sources have said that the truck and camper van was spotted in the area for at least three days. 

Meanwhile a team of gardaí are questioning the ten men in various garda stations across the south.

The men, ranging in ages from their 20s to 50s, are detained under gangland legislation and can be held for questioning for a maximum of seven days.

In the aftermath of the operation images circulating on social media showed several men handcuffed and lying next to a camper van after gardaí arrested them.

A source said that the bad weather both on land and at sea in the area would have made it extremely difficult for any smuggling operation. 

It is understood that the Joint Task Force which manages largescale drug interdiction operations was not stood up. There was also no involvement from Revenue Customs or the Naval Service. 

Officially gardaí are remaining tight lipped on the operation – a statement did not say that any drugs were seized.

They have confirmed that 10 men were arrested, that vehicles were seized and that investigations are continuing. 

This evening the men have appeared before Bandon District Court so that gardaí can make an application to extend their detentions for a further three days.

This was granted by Judge James McNulty.