Irish police seized heroin with an estimated street value of over €8 million after they intercepted a light aircraft at Weston Airport in Dublin on Friday.
Around 60kg of heroin was found in vacuum-packed bags stored in holdalls on board the light aircraft, representing the largest heroin seizure in Ireland in 2023.
Gardaí have arrested two men, aged in their 40s and 60s, on suspicion of organized crime activity after the aircraft was intercepted on Friday morning.
The men are currently being detained at a Garda station in County Kildare under Section 50 of the 2006 Criminal Justice Act.
RTÉ reports that detectives believe the drugs were sourced by a family-based gang in West Dublin with links to the Kinahan Organised Crime Group and were intended for distribution in Dublin and around the country.
Members of the Revenue Customs Service and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau carried out the operation at Weston Airport, which is located near the border of Dublin and Kildare between Lucan and Leixlip.
Justin Kelly, Assistant Commissioner, Organized and Serious Crime, described the recent seizure as "hugely significant", adding that law enforcement agencies around the world are noticing an increase in the use of non-commercial flights to smuggle drugs.
"This is a hugely significant seizure of heroin, and the importance of disrupting criminal networks supplying this type of drug into our communities has been reinforced by the recent wave of overdoses in Dublin city center," Kelly said in a statement.
"Worldwide, law enforcement agencies are seeing an increasing use of general aviation (non-commercial flights) to smuggle drugs.
"This operation shows the importance of multi-agency cooperation, in this case between An Garda Síochána, Irish Customs, and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (MAOC-N) in Lisbon, Portugal. I wish to commend the dedication and professionalism of all the personnel involved in this complex operation."