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Why have Gardaí and Revenue still not destroyed nearly €500 million worth of drugs?

One TD has called the situation “bizarre.”


THE VAST MAJORITY of drugs seized by law enforcement agencies in Ireland in the last five years are still awaiting destruction, it has emerged.

New figures provided by the Departments of Justice and Finance shows that drugs with a value of €495 million were not disposed of by Gardaí and Revenue since 2010 – some 93.4% of those seized.

By contrast, €35 million worth were destroyed – just 6.6% of all seizures.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty, whose parliamentary questions yielded the information, this week labelled the situation “bizarre” and called on Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to give a “more detailed and credible” explanation.

As shown in the chart below, the proportion of drugs destroyed has declined sharply, from 27.6% in 2010, to just 0.3% last year.

drugspercentage Source: Image: PA

The value of drugs destroyed has also shrunk, from €14,930,279.80 in 2010, to just €404,153 last year – 36 times less.

And this is despite the fact the almost three times more drugs were actually seized in 2014, than in 2010 – as shown in the chart below.


Overall, Gardaí and Revenue have seized €529,952,229 worth of controlled substances in the last five years.

As shown in the chart below, 65% of those seizures were conducted by Gardaí, while Customs agents picked up the remainder.

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drugsgardarcustoms Source: Image: PA

In a statement this week, the Donegal South West TD and Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson called the current situation “bizarre.”

I was amazed to find that over the last five years almost half a billion euro of drugs seized by An Garda Síochana and Revenue appear to have not been destroyed.
For each of the past five years the value of drugs destroyed has diminished rapidly from a high of almost €15m in 2010 to less than half a million euro last year.
This is bizarre given that the total value of seizures has generally increased year on year.
I am calling on the Minister to ask a few more questions and to give a more detailed and credible response…

00158643 Source:

In response to a PQ from Doherty in March, the Minister said drugs used as evidence can only be destroyed on a court order, and that the destruction of some quantities of drugs has been delayed “while new systems are put in place” following a review by Gardaí.

In circumstances where criminal proceedings have been initiated the legal destruction of controlled drugs can only take place when such proceedings have reached finality and an appropriate order has been made by the courts.
I am further informed by the Garda authorities that An Garda Síochána has also carried out a review in relation to the handling, storage and destruction of controlled drugs.
This has meant that quantities of drugs authorised for destruction have been held back while new systems are put in place.
Any noted decline in the quantity of drugs destroyed in recent years should therefore be redressed in the future. asked An Garda Síochána a number of questions, including when the system review began and concluded, but did not receive any response.

Similarly, the Department of Justice did not respond to requests for an explanation of the low and decreasing proportion of drugs destroyed, in light of the newly-revealed figures.

Read: Gardaí seize nearly €1 million worth of pills in Blanchardstown>

Read: Here’s why you haven’t seen crime statistics for a while>

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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