Four men appeared in Mallow District Court in Co Cork on Tuesday, October 3 in relation to Ireland's largest-ever drug bust that saw 2.2 tonnes of cocaine valued at €157 million recovered from a Panamanian-registered cargo ship off the Irish coast last week.
Cumali Ozgen, 48, from the Netherlands, Saeid Hassani, 37, from Iran, Mykhailo Gavryk, 30, and Vitaliy Vlasoi, 31, both from Ukraine, have been charged with conspiring together to possess cocaine for the purpose of supplying the drug, at a time when their market value was more than €13,000.
The four were precluded from applying for bail in the district court because of the nature of the charges they are facing, RTÉ reports. The four men are due to appear in court in Mallow again next week via video link.
Seven men have now been charged in relation to last week's drug bust, the largest-ever in the history of the Irish State.
Tuesday's court appearances come the day after Iranian national Soheil Jelveh, the man described as the captain of the MV Matthew cargo ship that was targeted in last week's drug bust, appeared in Wexford District Court where he was charged with importation of cocaine into the State where the value of the drugs was more than €13,000, possession of cocaine, and possession of cocaine for sale or supply.
Jelveh was the third person to be charged in connection with the historic drug seizure after 31-year-old UK national Jamie Harbron and 60-year-old Ukrainian Vitaliy Lapa were also charged.
Harbron and Lapa also appeared at Wexford District Court on Monday and have been remanded in custody for a fortnight when they appear before the court again via video link.
On September 26, a Joint Task Force comprising members of Ireland’s Revenue Customs Service, Naval Service, and An Garda Síochána implemented a coordinated operation at sea which resulted in the detention of MV MATTHEW, a Panamanian registered bulk cargo vessel originating in South America.
"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
More than two tons of cocaine, valued at €157 million, were recovered as part of the joint operation off the Irish coast.
The day after the joint operation, Justin Kelly, Assistant Commissioner, Organized and Serious Crime, said: “This is the largest drug seizure in the history of the State.
“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.
“These groups are transnational groups, they are working all across the world, and because of that, we need to work with our international partners.
“I think this particular operation demonstrates that type of cooperation that we had.”
Kelly later said: "This product was supplied by a South American cartel.
"One of the murderous cartels that are behind the cocaine shipments into Europe.
"A shipment like this into Europe, it's partly destined for the Irish market but obviously with the size, and the intelligence that we have behind it, we know that the organized crime group behind this comprised of a number of different elements from across Europe given its size."