Garda crackdown on cocaine users
An Garda Siochana is planning what has been called a ‘bottom-up' approach to the prevention of cocaine use in Ireland. A member of the Drug Squad told Village that in 2008, plain-clothes gardai will be dispatched to pubs and clubs across the country in a ‘major crackdown' on the use of cocaine. Gardai will have the power to search individuals suspected of cocaine use and arrest people in possession of illegal drugs.
The planned operation comes in response to widespread media coverage of cocaine use in Ireland following the tragic deaths of model Katy French, who had traces of cocaine in her bloodstream when she died, and two young men from Waterford who were placed on life-support machines shortly after orally ingesting damp cocaine and later died. The frenzy of reportage that followed pointed to an epidemic in cocaine use throughout the country. However, as Village reports in the January 2008 issue, cocaine use in Ireland is no higher than the EU average, and the prevalence of cocaine here is half that reported in the UK.
The garda who spoke to Village said that the 'crackdown' will probably not be a sustained campaign; while additional garda are being recruited by the Drug Squad at present, limited overall garda numbers mean that it would be similar to the campaign against drink-driving at Christmas. The garda told Village that no single would eradicate the use of illegal drugs in Ireland but that the 'bottom-up' approach will form part of a wider strategy; a 'top down' approach alone is not effective, in the garda's opinion. The garda said that very often, the assets of drug dealers seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau are considered by dealers to be ‘bad debts' and do not affect the larger drug dealing operation.
The garda said that funding drug awareness and treatment services through tax revenues from the legalisation of presently illicit drugs is viable, but that, in the garda's opinion, such an idea is far too ‘progressive' for the current political administration.