Mexican drug cartels are targeting Ireland and mainland Europe for their cocaine and cannabis trade, Europol, the EU’s policing agency, has claimed.

According to the Irish Daily Star, the agency has issued an unprecedented warning that the Mexican drug gangs — who have killed tens of thousands of their own people in a years long war — are now targeting the exploding drugs market in Europe.

85,000 men, women and children have reportedly been killed since 2006 and decapitated corpses have turned up on the streets of Mexican cities, terrifying the public.

Pat Byrne, the Irish head of Europol’s American office, told The Star that Ireland was firmly in the Mexicans’ sights.

“Ireland cannot be complacent, it is as much as part of the EU market as anywhere else,' Byrne said from his Washington office.

Byrne, who was once a senior police officer in Ireland, as well as being the head of the Irish police force’s Criminal Assets Bureau until he joined Europol in 2009, told The Star that there is already evidence of Mexican cartels using Ireland as a staging post for bringing drug shipments into Europe.

Two massive seizures of cocaine off the Cork coast in 2007 and 2008 both had Mexican cartel involvement, Byrne said.

The find of drugs on the Lucky Day yacht in July 2007 and the Dances With Waves vessel in November 2008 led to cocaine worth more than $1.5 billion being seized.

Both loads were too big for the Irish market and Byrne said he believed they were destined for Europe.

‘They already know about Ireland. There is evidence that the seizures of cocaine off the Cork coast had the involvement of the Mexican cartels. Those drugs were destined for the European market and Ireland would have been the staging post for that,' he said.

'Europol has gathered intelligence identifying that Mexican criminal groups are attempting to establish themselves as key players in the European drugs market.

'These criminal groups have an extremely violent operating culture. We do not want the level of violence and brutality we see in Mexico mirrored in Europe.

'Together with our law enforcement partners we will continue our efforts to tackle the criminals active within the illegal drug markets and ensure that Mexican organized crime groups cannot gain a foothold in Europe.'