CLARE Garda Chief Superintendent John Kerin has described drug barons who target young people to store drugs as “vultures” and “parasites”.
In a hard-hitting end-of-year assessment of the drugs problem, he said usage among young people has increased significantly. He also said he feels sorry for the families of some young people who were caught up in some of the 2014 drugs finds.
“As regards some of the more recent high-profile detections, I would know some of the families involved and I’d have to say my heart goes out to them. They are really decent people but unfortunately their children have been used by people that I would describe as vultures and parasites. They’re destroying these young people’s lives. They’re innocent, gullible and are getting very, very little out of keeping the drugs for the drug barons.
“The consequences of they being caught, and a number of people are now before the courts, are really horrendous. As I said, our hearts go out to the parents because they are very, very good people but their sons are being cajoled and used,” he said, before outlining how he feels the drug lords are luring people into storing significant supplies of drugs.
“The drugs barons are finding young people who haven’t come to the guards’ attention previously as regards drug use or drug sale and supply activity. They might have come to our attention as regards road traffic or other matters but certainly not in the drug end of things. They are the kind of people the barons are targeting. However, they get them; they are able to manipulate them and use them,” Chief Superintendent Kerin noted.
The garda chief also noted that the authorities have been making some progress, as drug possession detections in Clare increased by 23% in 2014, compared to the previous year.
“For the year to date, there were 71 sale and supply detections. They are the more serious offences. For what we call simple possession, there has been 306 offences detected. We had 22 cultivation offences detected this year. Some of them wouldn’t be significantly big but it includes a number of larger finds,” Chief Superintendent Kerin said.
“Overall, our detections for simple possession has increased by 23% this year. Our sale and supply detections are down by about 11%. There have been 58 more detections for simple possessions this year than there was last year and there has been about 10 less sale and supply offences detected.
“There have been four more cultivation offences detected this year compared to last year. The drop in sale and supply figures probably relates to our undercover operation in Kilrush last year, which culminated in quite a number of seizures,” he explained.
While there were a number of notable detections and finds in 2014, he acknowledged that a significant amount of drugs have slipped through the garda net.
“Any of the high-profile finds are all intelligence-led operations. They are operations that we would have been working on for months and months.
“However, I’m not foolish enough to say that we’re getting them all. We’re not by any means and indeed our intelligence would suggest that we’ve missed quite an amount of drugs being shifted by these people. But when it does come together, the consequences are serious for the people that are caught with the drugs,” he pointed out.
The Clare garda boss said the force in Clare has found that drug use has increased in recent years simply because it is less expensive.
“I think it’s the fact that the likes of cannabis herb, which in their [users] terms is deemed one of the milder drugs, are much cheaper now than they were 10 or 15 years ago. In real terms, as well, they consider it cheaper than alcohol on a night out. They won’t agree with our view but if they start taking cannabis herb, it leads on to more serious stuff and more serious consequences for them,” he predicted.
In terms of keeping a watch on Clare’s extensive coastline, Chief Superintendent Kerin said garda networking is key in this regard.
“We regularly liaise with the coastguard including the likes of Doolin Coastguard, for example. In the rural areas of West and North Clare, the gardaí would be regularly talking to people living there to see if there is any strange movements coming in on boats,” he said.