Brexit will dramatically change the flow of illegal drugs into Ireland, think tank says


According to a report commissioned by the British Embassy in Dublin, Brexit is set to disrupt and alter the flow of illegal drugs to Ireland as organized criminals take advantage of increased connections to mainland Europe.

Using ports is set to become a more common way of smuggling cocaine into the country with the establishment of new ferry routes from France and Spain after Brexit, according to the report compiled by the think tank Irish on security, the Azure Forum.

Even before the UK’s departure from the European Union, Irish organized crime gangs found new ways to source drugs. Previously, Irish gangs were supplied by British gangs, but now they have “established their own import and supply chains in Ireland”, the report says.

The UK is increasingly acting as a mere ‘gateway’ for drugs entering Ireland rather than a source, according to the report which is based on interviews with Irish and UK police officers and a review of existing studies.

These flows are likely to change further “in correlation with the decline in legitimate use of the UK ‘land bridge’ and additional direct ferry links to Ireland from France and Spain”.

The report says “corrupt” airport and port personnel are an extremely valuable asset to criminal gangs.

“Port workers, in particular, are indispensable in identifying containers of drug ‘scams’, including cocaine from South America.

“Corrupt” workers

“This is likely to become a more common method of trafficking in Ireland as Irish organized crime groups extend their contacts further up drug supply chains and as trade flows adjust after exiting the UK. of the EU.”

The report also says that “corrupt” workers in the logistics and transport sectors, especially “conniving” truck drivers, could smuggle drugs and smuggle irregular migrants.

Criminals treat the island of Ireland as a single market, he said, while exploiting the different legal jurisdictions to evade law enforcement.

Despite continued trade between Ireland and the UK under the post-Brexit trade and co-operation agreement, ‘it is very likely that organized crime will take advantage of post-Brexit changes in trade flows including the additional direct impact/roll-off ferry routes between Ireland and mainland Europe”.

Drug trafficking to Ireland is dominated by Irish gangs. However, the report raised the possibility of foreign gangs trying to take over the lucrative cocaine trade, as has happened in the UK.

“The ‘takeover’ of the UK cocaine market by Albanian organized crime suggests this could be done by downsizing existing suppliers with cheaper, high-purity products, initially using at least lower-level Irish criminals for local distribution and retail sales.”

This scenario remains unlikely as Ireland’s main gangs control the Irish market, but dismantling or disrupting these groups could create a “vacuum” which could be exploited by non-Irish criminals, he said.

Despite changes in drug trafficking methods, the phenomenon of ‘county lines’ seen in the UK – where criminals use vulnerable people and children to smuggle drugs from towns to cities and towns – does not persist. is not yet settled in the Republic or Northern Ireland, according to the report. .

Here, criminals are using vulnerable people for street sales, but “the county line model is not currently a feature of retail markets.”

Irish criminals have also been slow to embrace the use of cryptocurrency to launder and store wealth, he said, preferring to rely on cash instead.


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