Irish Navy wearing protective suits used when boarding suspect ships

The Irish navy has been called to the frontlines to patrol the southwest coast for potential Colombia cocaine smugglers.

Irish naval vessel Le Eithne is gearing up to take on the most notorious drug smugglers in the world. This week young men and women in there 20’s are out at sea on the naval vessel carrying out mock tasks and operations to prepare themselves for the real thing.

Kicking down doors, brandishing automatic weapons, scrambling to their inflatable crafts and jumping into the Atlantic Ocean, trainees are getting first hand exposure to the realities of tacking drug smugglers.

In recent times Colombian drug lords have been targeting Ireland- the gateway to Europe- as an easy drop venue for millions of dollars worth of drugs, mainly cocaine.

The Irish naval service, Irish customs and the Irish police have seen a huge rise in “jump-off points” at isolated places along the coast of Ireland.

Now authorities have asked the Irish navy to do their bit to help out.

Since the establishment of a pan-European naval intelligence service four years ago, $15 billion worth of drugs have been confiscated.

Le Eithne fleet commander in the Republic of Ireland, David Barry said such seizures wouldn’t have been possible without cross-European co-operation.

Together the authorities in the various European countries work in unison to prevent drugs entering at the coasts. 

"The Americans, the South Americans are looking at it as a model of how to do business."

Said Barry, “Ireland is slap bang on the route between the Caribbean and northern Europe, which is why the cocaine cartels are targeting the Republic's coast.”

In 2009 an estimated 1.5 tons of cocaine was seized from a yacht called Dances with Waves off the southwest coast of Ireland.

Barry said the drugs seized were planned for Britain and Northern Europe.

Le Eithne’s captain, Commander Tom Doyle, said Irelands small isolated islands are what drug smugglers use to drop goods off.

"It is a very rugged coastline and there are areas around it which are very isolated.

“We have many small islands that are sparsely populated so they make ideal areas to land goods or to try and ship goods into this country.

“It all lends itself to narcotics being landed in Ireland," says Doyle.

The ship's captain admits that the danger has increased for his crew as the drug-smuggling routes increase from South America and West Africa.

"Generally these operations take place in the hours of darkness and the weather is sometimes very inclement around Ireland. Our personnel who have to get on to vessels have to put up with these conditions while they are not sure what they are about to confront when they board," says Doyle.