Monday was a day of “high drama” after the Army Ranger Wing seized control of a ship carrying suspected cocaine thought to be worth tens of millions of euro.
The MV Matthew is registered in Panama and had sailed from South America towards Ireland.
The ship was being tracked by Irish authorities and, once it was off the south coast, members of the Defence Forces were dispatched to take control of it.
“It was stormed early yesterday by members of the Army Ranger Wing - they were essentially flown out there in Air Corps helicopters,” Irish Times Crime and Security Correspondent Conor Lally told Newstalk Breakfast.
“They fast roped down from the helicopters onto the deck of the ship and they took control of it.”
A Joint Task Force comprising members of the @naval_service, @IrishAirCorps, Army Ranger Wing, Revenue Customs Service & @gardainfo have implemented a co-ordinated operation at sea. pic.twitter.com/yPcrjiCOGe
— Óglaigh na hÉireann (@defenceforces) September 26, 2023
Once they became aware of the operation, the ship’s crew tried to flee - something that hugely complicated the operation.
“The Naval Service had to open fire a couple of times because the ship was trying to flee,” Mr Lally said.
“Once the Rangers were on board, they were able to take control of the vessel and then Customs Officers and Gardaí were able to get onto the ship.”
The @IrishAirCorps played a pivotal role during the high profile joint security operation! Precision flying in tricky conditions was required to insert @defenceforces ARW operatives which resulted in the interception of a vessel carrying a substantial quantity of narcotics!👇 pic.twitter.com/fpryfYrsUa
— Irish Air Corps (@IrishAirCorps) September 26, 2023
The ship has now been taken to Cork and Gardaí have found suspected cocaine on board with a significant street value.
“We believe it’s tens of millions and it could be far in excess of that,” Mr Lally said.
On Sunday, two men were arrested in Wexford after a ship ran aground with a significant quantity of suspected cocaine on board; it is believed the two ships were working together to bring drugs into Ireland.
“[The MV Matthew] was possibly dropping off drugs to several other smaller boats,” Mr Lally said.
“We don’t know that for sure but we certainly believe… the trawler that ran aground off the coast on Sunday night was one of these boats that was intended to go out to the larger vessel to take on board some of the cocaine [from them] and bring it to Ireland or the UK.”
Main image: The MV Matthew. Picture by: Óglaigh na hÉireann