THE number of so-called drug mules being caught trying to ferry illegal substances through Dublin airport has soared in the past year, figures reveal.
A total of 51 people were caught attempting to smuggle a variety of drugs into Ireland via the country’s largest airport, including eight people who had swallowed quantities of cocaine pellets.
In 2007 the number of drug mules intercepted by customs officials at the airport stood at 33.
Twenty-three people attempted to smuggle cannabis herb, ranging from 5kg to 25kg, through Dublin airport, while 15 people were caught trying to smuggle quantities of cocaine.
Just one person was caught smuggling heroin, with the remainder of those arrested detained for smuggling cannabis resin or prescription tablets.
Nine of those arrested for smuggling cannabis herb were Irish, and Sgt Martin Halpin of the Garda Drug Unit in Santry said there had been an increase in the amount of stronger cannabis herb being smuggled because of a move away from cannabis resin on the streets.
He also said tablets such as valium and Limovan were being seized in greater quantities from people flying back from Spain and Thailand, while many of the cannabis and cocaine-related flights were from Amsterdam.
“There has been an increase in the number of tablets coming in and we have seen that on the street as well,” said Sgt Halpin.
“It could be to do with cocaine use, with people using them [the tablets] to help them sleep.”
While the number of drug mules being caught and arrested at Dublin airport has increased, Sgt Halpin said this could be due to increased customs activity.
It is the first time in three years that the number of people caught smuggling drugs at the country’s largest airport has increased.
Gardaí have said that many of those acting as drug mules are not active members of drugs gangs but have instead been coerced into transporting the substances into Europe.