Five men have been arrested in Ireland as part of operations targeting organised crime
Gardaí are meeting with their Dutch counterparts in Amsterdam this evening following a major drugs haul in County Meath yesterday.
Investigators said around €7m worth of cannabis and cocaine was found in two storage units near Ashbourne.
Two men aged 31 and 37 were arrested at the scene and are due to appear at Trim District Court tomorrow morning.
Gardaí said the searches were part of a major international operation aimed at tackling organised crime.
The operation began on Wednesday November 15th.
In a planned operation, gardaí searched two premises in Ashbourne and discovered cannabis herb and cocaine worth around €7m.
Separately three men were arrested in Dublin as part of "Operation Thistle" targeting organised crime in the city.
The men were all arrested in Dublin 8 after a number of searches uncovered drugs, cash and what gardaí believe to be imitation firearms.
It is understood further arrests were made in the Netherlands.
Speaking from Amsterdam this afternoon, Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, the head of Special Crime Operations for the gardaí, said details of further arrests would be forthcoming soon:
"Other arrests may have taken place elsewhere and in relation to that we will provide further detail as the day goes on," he said.
This morning, Gardaí said the searches were stopped overnight but the operation is on-going.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan praised the work of An Garda Síochána.
"The illicit drugs trade is a highly destructive international business and I am pleased to see An Garda Sìochána continuing to partner effectively with law enforcement in other jurisdictions," he said.
"This seizure is very significant and results from a great deal of painstaking work.
"I want to congratulate all those involved for their professionalism and dedication to duty.
"The effective policing operation will prevent these drugs from reaching the streets and harming individuals, families and communities."
Speaking this evening from Europol headquarters in the Netherlands, Assistant Commissioner O'Driscoll said the operation had a strong international dimension:
“We have been engaged in liaising with a number of law enforcement agencies,” he said.
“There is a realisation across the member states of Europe in particular that when we combine our information we can have a greater impact on these crime gangs.”
He said garda units will continue to target, "a range of criminality associated with organised crime."
"In this regard there is a particular emphasis, firstly, on protecting life and tackling threat to life incidents, but also, on targeting the sale of drugs and other illicit products and, importantly, targeting the financial gain and money laundering involved," he said.
"As can clearly be seen, the Garda Síochána, through Serious Crime Operations, is engaged in activity on all three fronts in recent days.
"In particular, today the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau has brought to fruition an operation targeting drug trafficking, which has an international dimension.
"This has resulted in a significant seizure of cannabis herb and cocaine and the arrest of a number of suspects. Action in this jurisdiction has been coordinated with action being undertaken by international law enforcement authorities."
Speaking this afternoon, Ashbourne Councillor Alan Tobin said locals were shocked but not entirely surprised by the seizure:
“This is not the first time this has happened in the area,” he said. “I mean this is consistently happening.”
“Be it cigarettes, be it drugs, be it grow houses, be it people getting shot; people getting beaten up in the streets and things like that.
“I think people do become de-sensitised to this type of thing and it is just another one that has been found if you like.”
He said there are “an awful lot of problems” with crime in the area and called for additional resources to be made available to “sort it out.”
“This is another find in a nice quiet rural area,” he said. "It is bringing the spotlight on Ashbourne – a spotlight that we don’t want brought on the town.”
“The town is doing very well and it is a positive place.
"It is a great place to come and live and work and play and everything else - but these things need to be nipped in the bud and that is the bottom line.”
The international operation is ongoing.