GARDAI INVESTIGATING the suspected sale of illegal drugs over the counter in shops have raided 22 premises across the country in a co-ordinated operation led by the Garda National Drugs Unit ( GNDU ).
The shops were raided yesterday starting at noon in counties Dublin, Cork, Galway, Louth, Laois, Longford, Westmeath, Tipperary and Kildare.
Although a stimulant product called “herbal E” containing benzylpiperazine has been the subject of much public debate in recent years, that product was not the target of yesterday’s operation.
Yesterday’s searches were the culmination of a three-month investigation led by GNDU but also involving drugs units and local gardai in the areas where the shops are located.
Det Supt Barry O’Brien of GNDU said the investigation was not focused, as some reports suggested, on whether the shops were licensed to sell the products in question. Instead, it was narrowly focused on determining if illegal ingredients were contained in the seized products being sold over the counter.
No arrests in relation to the products can take place until the analysis determines if they contain illegal elements. However, one person was arrested in the course of yesterday’s searches in connection with possession of a controlled drug.
Products were taken for analysis from all but one of the shops raided yesterday.
It is unclear from where the products had been imported into the State. However, they are often processed and packaged in the UK or mainland Europe before being shipped to Ireland as legitimate goods for sale.
Grainne Kenny, international president of Europe Against Drugs, congratulated the Garda on yesterday’s operation. She said many shops around the country were “selling drugs that are potentially very risky”.