Dundalk Garda Superintendent Gerry Curley says his officers are continuing to take a proactive approach to tackling drug related crime in the town and wider area after revealing huge increases in arrests for possession and sale and supply in the first six months of the year.
“We are targeting the main drug people in the town,” Supt Curley told the July meeting of the Joint Policing Committee forum on Tuesday afternoon. “Some are remanded in custody, awaiting trial, some are out on bail.
“These are people who are causing such harm and destruction in the community and destruction in people’s lives,” he said. Supt Curley confirmed that he hopes the Dundalk Drugs Unit, based in Dundalk Garda Station, has seen it’s officer ranks increased and he hopes for more resources in the near future.
Currently, there is one sergeant and five officers in the Dundalk Drugs Unit while another sergeant and a number of other offices from the crime unit also contribute to combating the ongoing drug issue in the district.
In the six months from January 1 to the end of June, officers in Dundalk made 221 arrests for simple possession and a further 50 arrests for Sale of Supply, under Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Those figures were up 69% and 52% respectively on the same period last year.
Additionally, Gardai in Dundalk say they have conducted 749 searches under Section 53 of the Misuse of Drugs Act so far this year, as well as 124 searches of houses under warrant. In the Drogheda district, 621 searches of persons under the Section 53 of the Misuse of Drugs Act have been made this year.
Speaking during the meeting, Fianna Fáil councillor for Dundalk South Emma Coffey said, “This will bode well for confidence by the public in relation to this. The big significant increases really give a sense of security in the community.”
“The big significant increases really give a sense of security in the community”
- Cllr Emma Coffey
- Louth County Council
Chief Superintendent for Louth Christy Mangan also reaffirmed his belief that the cash proceeds of drug crime seized by Gardai should be put back into the communities, especially towards organisations that offer addiction supports and education.
“It would be my firm view it [the money] should be going to local networks trying to combat drug addiction. There are some brilliant people there and I am hearing they have no money at all. I would be only too delighted,” he said, having first made the point during Monday’s Drogheda JPC meeting.
Speaking on Monday about the latest figures for the Drogheda area which showed 129 arrests under Section 15 had been made in the Drogheda division in the first six months, Chief Supt Mangan said policing in Louth was making a dent in the drug trade locally.
“We’re way ahead of other divisions with the amount of people arrested, double or treble the number in some cases,” he told the meeting. “Operation Stratus has had the desired effect. It hasn’t gone away but we are on top of it. A lot of these people are serving lengthy jail terms – but there’s always someone there to take their place.”
On the matter of redistributing funds from drug crime to community organisations, he said: “It would have a very positive effect on the public. It would be fantastic, a positive story. He cited services such as The Red Door Project and the Family Addiction Support Network as two locally based services that could benefit from the money.
In the last month, Gardai across the county have seized over well over €400,000 worth in cash and substances as part of Operation Stratus actions. Operation Stratus commenced in October 2018 in Drogheda to combat organised crime activity in the town and it’s wider environs.