There were 31 detections for the sale and supply of drugs in Mayo last year, according to Sergeant Jim Cadden of the Garda Drugs Unit. Sgt Cadden addressed a meeting of the joint policing committee on Monday where he outlined the increases in detections being made in Mayo for a range of drug offences.
Ten of those detections were for cocaine, one for speed, six for ecstasy, and 14 for cannabis. The largest amount of cannabis seized was worth €40,000 and the dealer is now serving a seven and a half year jail sentence as a result of the find.
Sgt Cadden said that in 2006 one drug dealer was caught every 19 days by gardaí in Mayo. In 2008 one was caught every 12 days while this year one has been caught every nine days. In 2006 one grower of drugs was caught every six months, in 2008 this increased to one every 28 days while this year it has been one every 29 days so far.
In relation to possession of drugs, one person was caught every five days three years ago, last year it was one every two days and the same trend continues this year.
There are five people on the run for drug offences in this county and gardaí know that three of the perpetrators are in Vancouver, with two others in Spain. There are prosecutions taken in 75 per cent to 80 per cent of cases.
People from all walks of life and from very decent families are all caught up in the drug scene, Sgt Cadden told committee members, with drugs available in every garda district in the county.
While the use of cocaine is dropping off this year, the use of cannabis and ecstasy is increasing, with the price of an ecstasy tablet as low as €5, making them very accessible to the public.
Deputy John O’Mahony, a member of the committee, suggested that by advertising the street values of drugs which are seized, the gardaí are reiterating how lucrative an industry it is. He suggested that it would be more effective to outline how many lives have been saved by each seizure.
Drug dealers are getting smarter, according to Sgt Cadden, who said they are careful not to be caught with drugs over a value of €13,000 which would warrant a maximum 10-year prison sentence, usually reduced to seven or seven and a half years. Instead dealers are making two trips to transport their drugs.
Next month the Gardaí will bring seven or eight drug-related cases to the Circuit Court.