Largest drug seizure in Ireland’s history

Irish authorities have seized 2,253kg of cocaine from a single vessel in a multi-authority swoop which was described as  the largest drug seizure in the history of the state.

Bulk carrier Matthew (IMO 9228150) was stormed by armed forces and impounded on Tuesday, reported the BBC.

The elite Army Ranger Wing stormed the vessel with assistance from the Naval Service, Air Corps, Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and customs officers.

Garda (Irish police) Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly told reporters on Wednesday that it was a “hugely significant, transnational operation” with cooperation from international drug enforcement partners in the United States, the UK, France and Portugal.

Three men, aged 60, 50 and 31, who were reported to have been on a small local fishing vessel, were arrested as part of the operation.

The Matthew was carrying a crew of approximately 25 people and authorities said there may be further arrests and search operations.

Matthew had sailed from Curacao in the Caribbean on August 10th, spending some time off the coast of Guyana before taking a rest in the Azores. It was said to have changed owner (and name) sometime in August. The named destination changed from Gdansk to Belfast.

The Irish Defence Forces said that the ship had been tracked for several days. The Irish Navy patrol vessel William Butler Yeats fired warning shots in the ship’s direction before forces stormed the ship by helicopter.

2001-built, Panama-flagged, 28,647 gt Matthew is reported by Equasis as owned by Mathhew Maritime Inc of Majuro, Marshall Islands. However, until August 1st the vessel was known as the Honmon. Until September its routes had usually been Middle America, the Gulf of Mexico an the east coast of South America. But in September the locations shifted to West Africa and western Europe, with its most recent (diverted, redesignated) journey being from Willemstad, Curacao, to Cork, Ireland.