Irish military forces raided the Panamanian flag (PAN) bulk carrier MATTHEW on the morning of Tuesday 26th September and discovered a “significant quantity” of illegal narcotics, believed to be cocaine off the coast of Cork.
The Irish Defence Forces said that the ship had been tracked for several days after traveling from South America. The Irish Navy patrol vessel LE WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS P 63 fired warning shots in the ship’s direction before forces stormed the ship by helicopter, apparently as the vessel tried to evade authorities. As informed, members of the Irish Navy, the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, and Revenue’s Customs Service were brought onboard after an Army boarding team fast-roped down from the helicopter.
LE WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS P 63 at Malta back to August, 2017
The 189 metre (loa) bulker MATTHEW was escorted to a naval base at Marino Point in Cork Harbour with her AIS ship tracking data shows the ship named as DETAINED.
Police have arrested three people aged 60, 50 and 31 yo and the raid may be related to the grounding of a trawler on Sunday. The Daily Mail is reporting that investigators believe the bulker MATTHEW may have been used as a “mother ship” to transport cocaine to Ireland. Once off the coast, the vessel would transfer the drugs to smaller boats which would then smuggle them into Europe.
"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
“This operation demonstrated the importance of all services of the Defence Forces and their ability to operate in the most challenging of conditions,” said Defence Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Seán Clancy.
Officials later confirmed the seizure involved 2,253 kg (4,967 pounds) of cocaine worth an estimated 157 million euros ($166 million).
Timeline Image – Irish Defence Forces