339. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the success of An Garda Síochána over the past three years in combatting drug trafficking; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30426/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I can inform the Deputy that An Garda Síochána continue to disrupt the sale and supply of controlled drugs in communities across the State. Tackling serious crime is a key priority for the Government and I very much welcome the exceptional work which has been undertaken by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) so far this year. This vital work is having significant success in disrupting drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups.
From its establishment in March 2016 to the end of 2020, GNDOCB has been responsible for the seizure of in excess of 133 firearms, €209 million worth of illicit drugs, 5,500 rounds of ammunition and €21.7 million in cash. In 2020 alone, GNDOCB seized €36.7 million worth of illicit drugs, 23 firearms, 2,131 rounds of ammunition, €8 million in cash and made 228 arrests
The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, together with Divisional Drugs Units, and Revenue and Customs, have had considerable further success in the first quarter of 2021 in seizures of illegal drugs. The total drugs seized by the GNDOCB in the first 4 months of the year is valued at €28.2m. This represents an increase of 392% over the same period last year, when drugs valued at €5.7m were seized. In addition, approximately €3.8m in cash has been seized in the same period, an increase of 183% over the same period in 2020, when €1.3m was seized.
More recently, there have been further significant seizures of note. On 28 May last, as part of ongoing investigations targeting persons suspected to be involved in organised crime, GNDOCB carried out an operation in the Meath area, where a vehicle and one premises were searched. As part of this operation, 67.5kg of suspected cannabis herb valued at €1.35 million was seized and two arrests were made.
Also on 28 May, Gardaí carried out an operation targeting the sale, supply and distribution of illegal drugs in the Limerick area. A number of premises across Limerick city were searched as part of this operation which resulted in the seizure of suspected cannabis herb worth €900,000 as well as approximately €45,000 in cash. Eight arrests have been made following this operation.
While public health restrictions have contributed to the increased detection rates, much of the recent achievements can be attributed to the professionalism and cooperation of Garda units, the Criminal Assets Bureau and Revenue and Customs.