GARDAÍ are concerned that the lengthy West Cork coastline could be exploited by drug smugglers aiming to beat Brexit.
With tight security at British ports arising out of Brexit, sources say that smugglers will be looking at other ways to bring drugs into Europe – including via the Irish coast.
In past decades, there have been a number of high profile drug busts off the coast of West Cork, including the seizure of €440 million euro worth of cocaine in Dunlough Bay in July 2007.
However, one garda source said that shipments from Spain could easily be smuggled into ports such as Castletownbere in small amounts.
Spanish ships regularly come to the southwest Cork area for fishing.
He said: “Drug smugglers will want to avoid the UK because of Brexit.
We will have to keep an eye out on the coastline. But the West Cork coastline is so vast.”
He added: “Castletownbere is wide open with so many ships coming in from Spain.”
A taskforce involving the gardaí, Navy and Customs, is responsible for policing the Irish coastline.
And gardaí say that local knowledge of unusual activities or strangers in an area is a crucial tool in tackling drug smuggling.
Coastal Watch has been in existence for more than 30 years, where local landowners and fishermen notify authorities of any suspicious activities off the coast.
Some of the risk indicators that members of the public are requested to be on the lookout for are:
* suspicious activity in relation to persons or vehicles * ships and yachts sighted in remote areas
* crew making landings in remote areas
* unusual objects at sea or ashore
* ships away from their normal shipping lanes
* vessels operating at night without lights
* packages floating in the sea, lying on the beach or hidden close to the shore.
Members of the public are requested to report any unusual activity to any of the following numbers:
Customs Drugs Watch - Confidential Freephone number 1800 295 295. Bandon Garda Station 023-8852200. Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111. Emergency Number 112/999. Naval Operations Centre 021 – 4864707.