Gardaí investigating the detention of the Panamanian registered bulk cargo vessel, MV MATTHEW, and associated events have today, September 28, arrested one man for alleged organized crime offenses contrary to the Criminal Justice Act 2006.
This brings the total number of persons in Garda custody to seven, Gardaí said on Thursday.
All seven men are detained under section 50 Criminal Justice Act 2007, as part of the same investigation, at Garda stations in the Southern Region.
Investigations are ongoing.
2253kg of cocaine valued at €157 million was recovered during a joint task force operation including gardaí, customs officers from Revenue, and the Defence Forces on Tuesday, September 26.
It is the largest drug bust in the history of the Irish State.
Gardaí arrested three men on Wednesday evening for alleged organized crime offenses and arrested another man on Thursday afternoon after interviewing crew members on board the MV Matthew.
Additionally, the captain of the MV Matthew cargo ship was arrested on Tuesday, while two men who were on a trawler that ran aground off the Wexford coast were arrested on Monday.
All seven men are being detained at Garda stations in the southern region of the country.
Of the six men arrested before the latest arrest on Thursday, three are reported to be from Ukraine, two are from Iran, and one is from the United Kingdom.
The Irish Examiner reports that the gang's intention was to load the drugs from the MV Matthew onto a trawler via crane and transport it to Ireland for onward dispersal.
However, the fishing trawler failed to reach the vessel due to bad weather and ended up running aground off the coast of Wexford.
Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Irish Defence Forces, said on Tuesday after the operation that the container ship was tracked by both Air Corps and the Naval Service assets over a number of days and was detained following the firing of warning shots in its direction by the LE WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS.
A team from the Army Ranger Wing was then deployed by heli onto the MV MATTHEW via fast rope insertion in challenging conditions. The ARW made the vessel safe and enabled its boarding by officials and personnel from the Irish Navy, the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB), and Revenue’s Customs Service.
"This Joint & multiagency Op demonstrates the interoperability of Óglaigh na hÉireann, underlining the unique capability that we bring to the defence of the State. The significant intel led planning by the JTF enabled the coordination & execution of this complex multiagency Op. pic.twitter.com/2bcsZkyxdg— Óglaigh na hÉireann (@defenceforces) September 26, 2023
The vessel was escorted by the Naval Service to an Irish Port where it will be detained to allow for a detailed search and investigation by Revenue Customs and An Garda Siochana.
The MV Matthew was escorted to Cork Harbour on Tuesday following the multi-agency raid.
The military operation that saw the Naval Service and the Army Ranger Wing take control of the vessel has now concluded, but the investigation continues.
Speaking on Wednesday, Assistant Commissioner of An Garda Síochána Justin Kelly described the seizure as "hugely significant."
"I think it’s really important to note, this is the largest drug seizure in the history of the state," Kelly said.
"This is a hugely significant operation and it shows our unrelenting determination to disrupt and dismantle networks which are determined to bring drugs into our country.
"This is a huge hit for the people involved in this."
Given the size of the haul, authorities do not believe that all of the cocaine was destined for Ireland and suspect that the drugs were being transported from South America for distribution across Europe.
Officers from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau are interviewing the 25 crew members who were on board the MV Matthew, while a forensic examination of the ship is underway under armed guard at Cork Harbour.
The trawler that ran aground off the coast of Wexford remains wedged in a sandbank and is being monitored by gardaí.
However, authorities do not believe that there is any cocaine on board the vessel.