GARDAI in Portarlington have broken up a cocaine mixing factory which was supplying drugs for the local market but was linked to national criminal gang.
Following an extensive surveillance operation, local officers and detectives swooped at around 7.30am last Saturday morning when they raided a house in the Ballyshandra area on the Portarlington to Mountmellick Road.
When the police raided the house they discovered upwards of €70,000 worth of cocaine. It is one of the biggest seizures of cocaine in the midlands.
Apart from the substantial amount of the drug, it was ready for sale but mixing and bulking agents and other paraphenalia were also seized in a bedroom of the house.
It is understood that the room was being rented by a couple to a single man. However, they were unaware of what was going on under their roof.
Nobody was detained at the scene but one man was arrested later on Saturday evening.
Kieran Heatly, aged 48, is originally from Newry but was living in Portarlington for a number of years. He was charged under Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act when he appeared before a special sitting of Portlaoise District Court on Sunday evening last.
Mr Healy made no reply when charged and was remanded in custody to appear again in court possibly this week.
Gardai are continuing their investigation and have not ruled out further arrests. However, they are confident that there is a link to Dublin criminals. The involvement of dissident paramilitaries or criminal elements of republicanism have been ruled out.
Cllr Tom Mulhall praised Portarlington’s Gardai for their work in this operation and their overall record policing Portarlington.
However, the Emo electoral area county councillor, said crime was rising and drugs has become a serious issue. He called for the expansion of policing presence in Portarlington.
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“We have no 24-hour station.
There is a huge population and the Gardai have to police the Offaly area as well.
We have very good Gardai and there is a very good crime detection rate but crime is rising and drugs is a serious issue with our young people. It is time to think seriously about a full station,” he said.
Cllr Ray Cribbin welcomed the Garda operation and was concerned such an operation was near the town and that they were supplying locally.
“That is the worst part of the scenario but there is not a city or town that is not affected by it but full marks to the Gardai who are doing a good job,” he said.
He said a 24-hour station was preferable. The Fianna Fail councillor said there was a belief that a criminal element had set up locally however it was not until Gardai carry out an operation such as this that local people find out what is going on.