21 April 2005

Daily Ireland

Ex-INLA man said to be held after raid on cocaine factory

A former associate of the Irish National Liberation Army kidnapper Dessie O’Hare is believed to be one of three men arrested yesterday during raids connected with a major cocaine distribution network on both sides of the Border.
The man was arrested by the PSNI after an alleged drugs factory was raided in Moy near Dungannon in Co Tyrone yesterday morning.
The PSNI described as “significant” the haul of six kilograms of cocaine, valued at £500,000 (€734,000).
Forensic experts later took away several items for examination.
On Tuesday night, gardaí in Cork uncovered €500,000 (£340,000) worth of cocaine in the Timoleague area in a connected raid.
The former INLA prisoner, originally from the Newry area, was released under the Good Friday Agreement after serving a sentence in Portlaoise prison, Co Laois.
He had been jailed for his part in a kidnapping carried out by the paramilitary group in the 1980s.
A former IRA prisoner is also among the three being questioned by the PSNI. He too was released as part of the Good Friday Agreement.
In the Cork raid, detectives from the Garda National Drugs Unit uncovered seven kilograms of cocaine and a quantity of cannabis.
It is understood the raid took place after a tip-off from the PSNI.
A Garda spokesman said: “Investigations are continuing. No arrests have been made in connection with this seizure.
“Gardaí are liaising with the Police Service of Northern Ireland in connection with this seizure.”
The cross-Border operation has prompted calls for an all-Ireland drug strategy.
Dungannon SDLP councillor Vincent Currie said the creation of a cross-Border anti-drugs strategy would send a message to dealers.
“It’s very worrying that such a haul has been found in the area,” he said.
However, Eddie McGarrigle, a spokesman for the IRSP, last night claimed that none of those arrested were connected with his party or the INLA. “None of these people could class themselves as republicans,” said Mr McGarrigle.
More than £15 million (€22 million) of drugs were seized in the North last year, official figures say.

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