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Drugs war in Mountbellew

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A Polish cannabis grower living in Mountbellew, had a double barrel shotgun and an air rifle hidden in his car to protect his lucrative drugs business from a Lithuanian gang who had already stolen two kilos of the illegal harvest from him.

Gardaí who raided the home of Robert Dusza (46), at Tuam Road, Mountbellew, on April 18 last year, found €285,800 worth of cannabis plants and a bag of harvested cannabis worth €5,252, along with €10,000 in cash hidden behind a picture frame.

A follow-up search of Dusza and his car the next day revealed the two firearms, hidden under the driver’s seat, along with €1,000 cash in his wallet.

Dusza pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in May to cultivating cannabis plants without a licence at the above address.

He pleaded guilty also to having a 12 gauge ‘Savage’ make Fox B model double barrel shotgun in his possession which had its serial number deliberately obliterated, along with a 177 (4.5mm) Calibre Norconia Premium model air rifle, at the above address on the same date.

Garda Cormac Bane told the sentence hearing last week that he and his colleagues uncovered a sophisticated cannabis growing factory when they searched Dusza’s house.

They found 351 cannabis plants, 102 of which were flowering and ready to be harvested, while the remaining 249 plants were in the early stages of growth.

The combined street value of the plants came to €285,800.

They also found a bag of harvested cannabis with a street value of €5,252 and the stash of cash hidden behind the picture.

Dusza was not at home when the Gardaí raided the place.  They kept the house under surveillance and swooped when he returned there the next morning.

A search of his car revealed the two guns hidden under the driver’s seat.

Garda Bane said the serial number had been removed from the double barrel shotgun but Gardaí knew it had been stolen from a house in Co. Clare in 2009 and its owner was now deceased.

Dusza said he bought the guns from a Polish friend for his own protection because he had been previously robbed of his cannabis.

He admitted he had already sold one kilo of cannabis for €7,000 and while he had expected the crop he was growing at the time to yield three and a half kilos, a Lithuanian gang had already stolen two kilos from him.

“His intention was to cultivate three and a half kilos every month and send the money he made back to Poland,” Garda Bane explained.

Dusza, the court was told, had ten previous convictions, including one in 2010 for the cultivation of cannabis plants, for which he had received a suspended six-month sentence.

Garda Bane said the accused had been running a professional, highly organised business, supplying cannabis to dealers in the area.  A ‘tick list’ of those dealers was found on the accused as well, he said.

With the help of a Polish interpreter, Dusza told the court he had been living in Ireland for eleven years.  He said his marriage ended three years ago and he wanted to raise money for his family who were in debt in Poland.

He said he started drinking and taking drugs when his marriage ended but he had a very good partner now and no longer needed them.

Through the interpreter, Dusza asked Judge Rory McCabe not to jail him for the sake of his daughter.

He said he had the guns for four years and never harmed anyone. They just hung on the wall, he said.

Judge McCabe said Dusza should have thought of his daughter before cultivating and selling cannabis on an industrial scale.

The seriousness of the cultivation offence, he said, was highlighted by the possession of the firearm with the identity mark removed.

He then sentenced Dusza to seven years in prison for the cultivation offence and suspended the final two years for five years from the date of his release.

The judge took the firearms offence into account and ordered the confiscation of the money and the destruction of the plants, the drugs and the associated paraphernalia found in the house.

Connacht Tribune

A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day

John McIntyre

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Conor Reddington of Annaghdown and Tuam Stars' Adam Carton in action during the North Board Minor B football final at Tuam Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.

Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.

With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.

Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Greens see red on gold rush

Dara Bradley

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Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.

Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.

They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.

The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.

And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.

However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure

Declan Tierney

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The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.

The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.

Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.

The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.

Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.

When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.

Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.

It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.

For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.

Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.

He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.

He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.

With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.

He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.

The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.

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