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This giant x-ray machine will be scanning suspicious cargo trucks at Dublin Port

And some very clever sniffer dogs will be helping out too.


WITH A GREATER emphasis on global trade and an increase in the number of cargo containers coming into the capital city, it’s not surprising that Revenue are keeping a beady eye on the increase in traffic through Dublin Port.

Today, it added a ‘state-of-the-art’ x-ray scanner to its list of tools to catch out the kingpins in Ireland’s shadow economy.

Although Revenue already have two cargo scanners, this one is mobile and can scan the cabin of the lorry as well as the cargo container – limiting the options to hide illegal goods.

So here’s what its latest scanner looks like:

DSC_0142 Source:

And how does it work?

Based on intelligence gathered by officials, such as suspicious activity and risk assessment, officers at Dublin Port decide which cargo containers they will scan.

The truck then either stays stationary while the scanner moves across the whole vehicle (see the video above), or else the scanner stays put while trucks drive through the device.

When there’s something found, an alarm goes off. Officials inside the scanner’s cabin can also see what’s inside and if the material is ‘organic’ or not, which could indicate illegal substances:

DSC_0139 The yellow marks indicate that the material inside is organic: the blue means it's non-organic. Source:

But it’s not the only technology they rely on: if officials suspect a cargo trailer, their officials will inspect the truck in addition to the scanner being used.

There are also 20 sniffer dogs at their heels, and all dogs have a specific substance that they can sniff out.

olympus-digital-camera-289-390x285 Source: Revenue

Harvey here, for example, helped with a seizure of 65,000 unstamped cigarettes and 7.5kg of unstamped tobacco in February of this year.

How much did it cost?

The new machine has cost a total of €1.66 million and was partly-funded by a grant of €750,000 from Europe’s Anti-Fraud Agency under its ‘Hercule III Programme’.

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Hercule III has a budget of €104.9 million between 2014 and 2020 to help EU countries fight fraud, corruption and other illegal activities.

This latest technology, designed by the Chinese company Nuctech, hopes to make the searching process smoother and more efficient.

And there’s good reason behind lightening the workload.

Last year Revenue made 1,222 seizures of cannabis; 4,965 seizures of illegal cigarettes and 1,875 alcohol seizures, as well as stopping other illegal substances and some vehicles.

In total, their seizures of drugs amounted to over €30 million. They’ll be eager to make sure that the number of seizures increases (at least then they’re finding them).

Speaking at the New Custom House today, Revenue Chairman Niall Cody admitted to the “increasingly agile and sophisticated” concealment techniques used by smugglers and that the new scanner is the most powerful currently available.

Cody said that it’s hoped the scanner will help “identify suspicious consignments quickly and efficiently, with minimum impact on legitimate trade”.

The plan is to eventually replace the other two scanners to this technology (or whatever other technology becomes available in the future).

But considering that almost half of this bill was footed by an EU body, it might be some time before those funds become available again.

Read: Caught: How online dealers are stopped from funneling drugs through our postal system

Read: Detector dog Harvey helps Revenue seize cigarettes, tobacco and vodka in Cork

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