HUGE INCREASE IN NUMBER OF DRUG OFFENCES
CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT INSISTS RISE DUE TO INCREASE IN DETECTION AS GARDAÍ CLAMP DOWN ON DRUG TRADE
GARDA Chief Superintendent Tom Myers has moved to allay fears that the illegal drug trade in Kerry is spiralling ‘out of control’ as figures show a massive increase of 71 per cent in the number of drug-dealing cases and a rise of 43 per cent in drug possession cases in the county.
The alarming new figures were revealed at a meeting of the county’s Joint Policing Committee in Killarney on Friday, led by Chief Supt Myers and attended by County Councillors, council officials and community representatives.
The comparative figures outlined by the Chief Supt were for the period January 1 – August 31, 2017 as against the same period of last year.
Sinister drug-related activity involving threats to young people were also cited at the meeting by at least one County Councillor.
“Have drugs gone out of control in Kerry or is it because we are working hard on it? I like to think it’s the latter,” Chief Supt Myers told the committee.
“New energy has been put into the divisional drugs unit,” he explained, saying he in fact took the recorded rise in drug offences as a positive indication of increased policing of the trade and use of illegal substances.
The figures relate to cases the gardaí have detected in both drug possession for personal use and drug possession for the purposes of sale and supply.
It’s expected the vast majority of these cases, not already brought to justice, will be prosecuted before the courts in the near future.
Drug policing is an area in which Supt Myers has long-proven expertise and success, having headed the drug squad in Cork City prior to being transferred to Kerry. Since he took up the position last year Gardaí have scored a number of substantial raids on drug-supply operations – bearing out the Chief Supt’s belief the increase relates in the main to improved detection. He also alluded to improved ‘procedures’ in detecting drug offences.
72 cases of drug dealing were detected up until the end of August this year; against 42 last year. Meanwhile 328 cases of ordinary possession were detected in the same period this year, against 229 in the same period last year.
Cannabis herb accounts for the vast majority of drugs seized this year (72 per cent); with cocaine the second most widely seized (7 per cent); followed by cannabis resin (5 per cent). Heroin also accounts for 5 per cent of the haul.
Cllr Michael Cahill meanwhile alluded to a case of a young student being ‘ beaten and made an example’ of by a drug dealer. “If you get into debt with them up and up the repayments go and they made an example of this young guy.”
In response Chief Supt Myers said: “I would encourage people to come forward. We have to stand up to these people as they are a scourge on our communities.”