Police Seize $41 Million Worth Of Cocaine Disguised As Charcoal

by : Hannah Smith on :
Police Seize $41 Million Worth Of Cocaine Disguised As Charcoal@gardainfo/Twitter

Irish police have made a giant drugs bust after discovering a shipment of charcoal bound for the country was actually a haul of cocaine.

In a joint operation between Irish and Dutch police, authorities uncovered $41.4 million (€35 million) of the Class A drug inside two shipping containers that arrived in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, on their way to Ireland last month.


The shipment, which originated in South America, was part of what Ireland’s Garda Síochána police service said was an attempt by organised crime groups to import more than half a ton of cocaine into the country.

Irish police seized half a ton of cocaine disguised as charcoal (Garda Síochána)Garda Síochána

But rather than sending the product in bricks, it seems like the exporters got creative in their attempts to evade detection by the authorities, instead concealing it inside several large bags disguised as lumps of charcoal.

According to RTÉ more than 2,000 20kg bags containing charcoal were discovered by investigators, however, thanks to police sniffer dogs and the use of an X-Ray scanner, police were quickly able to work out that not all the lumps of charcoal were as they seemed and were in fact batches of cocaine that had been chemically disguised.


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The seized containers were eventually escorted into Dublin Port by the Irish Naval Service, where Forensic Science Ireland said they had confirmed that cocaine was present in the shipment, but added it would take a number of days to be able to extract the drug.

Garda assistant commissioner John O’Driscoll said that the bust was part of a joint investigation between Irish police and the Organised Crime Bureau, and confirmed that arrests related to the shipment would likely be made in the near future.

‘This is a significant development in the Garda Síochána’s effort to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups suspected to be involved in the importation of cocaine and other drugs into Ireland,’ he said in a statement.


Michael O’Sullivan, who leads the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre which works to coordinate anti-drug trafficking operations within Europe, told RTÉ that the bust was ‘a massive seizure’ that would ‘deal a huge blow to the organized crime group involved.’

A similar discovery of cocaine disguised as charcoal was made in Spain last month, with Spanish police reporting the drugs had been ‘camouflaged’ using a ‘complex chemical process.’ Irish authorities believe that the organised crime group would likely have flown in a specialist chemist from South America to extract the product once it arrived.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: News, cocaine, Ireland


  1. RTÉ

    €34m worth of cocaine disguised as charcoal seized by gardaí