Additional officers for crackdown on dealers

An Garda Síochána has beefed up local drugs unit in big towns throughout the county in the ongoing ‘war on drugs’.

Garda Chief Superintendent, Tom Curley has confirmed that two Gardaí based in Loughrea have been reassigned and will now be dedicated to the issue of drugs in the Loughrea Garda District.

This is in addition to the two full-time Gardaí working on the drugs issue in Tuam and two full-time in Ballinasloe.

They complement the local drugs unit in Galway and Gardaí locally also have use and access to resources of the divisional and national drugs units.

Chief Supt Curley said Gardaí rely on intelligence from the community to spot grow houses. Rooftops without frost on them during frosty mornings, or buildings with curtains always closed could be signs that they are being sued as grow houses for cannabis.

He was speaking at the annual public meeting of the County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting in Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe on Monday where he urged the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to Gardaí.

In his Garda report, Chief Supt Curley outlined how in the first ten months of the year there were 33 seizures of drugs for sale or supply in County Galway, excluding the city and Salthill.

This represented a 13% reduction compared to the previous year.

There were 154 cases of simple possession, 21 fewer, representing a 12% reduction, compared with the first ten months of last year.

Cannabis with a street value worth €212,785 was seized during the first 10 months of 2016. Other drugs seized included: cocaine (€11,625); ecstasy (€8,420); and other (€2,535). There was no heroin seized in the county during that period, the report said.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Michael Connolly, the Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council, said there was “a lot of money involved” in the drugs seizures.

Cllr Connolly said drugs misuse was now impacting on every town and village in the county. “It is a scourge,” he said.

Chief Supt Curley agreed it was a problem and said people now had “more disposable income”, and as a result “more drugs are being used”.

He said each cannabis plant seized could be worth between €300 and €500.

He added his staff have been upskilled to deal with the drugs issue.