A one-million-euro cannabis distribution operation in Cork city was intercepted by organised garda surveillance and today a major cog in that crime was jailed for eight years.
His accomplice was jailed for five years.
Detective Garda Michael O’Halloran said that most of the massive stash of drugs was held in a van parked at Kent railway station.
The dealers were caught as they drove by car to the van, then drove the van a metre out from a wall to open the back door and retrieve part of the stash and then locked it up and reversed it back into position until the next time.
There was almost 50 kilos of cannabis being distributed in Cork city through this operation. By the time gardaí intervened there was €800,000 worth of cannabis remaining.
The main dealer admitted at interview that before this seizure, quantities of cannabis estimated at 60 to 80 kilos had previously passed through his hands.
This man – 45-year-old Michael O’Leary of 14 The Orchard, Mahon, Cork, and previously of Kent Road, Ballyphehane, Cork – was jailed for eight years today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. He had no previous drug conviction or any major conviction in the past.
Donal O’Sullivan, defence barrister, said O’Leary injured his hand in 2017 as a result of which he could not work. He had been using cannabis and began to use it more and his involvement in the drug trade escalated as he paid for his own drugs. Mr O’Sullivan said O’Leary said he was making about €600 a week from his involvement at the time he was caught.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said gardaí from the divisional drugs unit identified O’Leary as a person of interest and set up surveillance on him. The judge said the operation was probably more fruitful than gardaí might have imagined.
He went into a trade that is full of risks and he has to take the penalty,” the judge said as he jailed him for eight years with none of that sentence suspended.
Co-accused, 50-year-old Eddie Murphy of 31 Hazel Road, Togher, was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended for his lesser part in the drug-dealing distribution.
O’Leary and Murphy were caught driving away together in the Toyota Yaris with €110,000 worth of cannabis at Kent railway station, there was €600,000 of the drug in the parked van and €90,000 more of the drug in O’Leary’s house at Kent Road, Ballyphehane, on the date that all of these drugs were found on June 21 2019.
Emmet Boyle, barrister, for Murphy said he played the lesser part and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
Mr O’Sullivan BL said O’Leary accepted responsibility and admitted that he was more involved in the crime than Murphy.
Both men faced a possible mandatory minimum jail term of ten years for having more than €13,000 worth of cannabis on the occasion.