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Matthew bulk carrier underway during drug bust

Photo courtesy Irish Defence Forces

More Arrests Made in High Seas Drug Bust Off Ireland as Plot Thickens

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 4800
September 29, 2023

Seven individuals have been arrested in connection with a major cocaine seizure in the high seas off the coast of Ireland this week.

A specialized unit of the Irish military carried out the raid of the M/V Matthew on Tuesday morning as the ship attempted to evade authorities near Cork, Ireland. The Irish Navy’s patrol vessel, the LE William Butler Yeats, had to fire warning shots when the ship failed to comply with orders. A search of the ship has since uncovered a significant quantity of cocaine, weighing nearly 5,000 pounds and valued at approximately $170 million.

This is believed to be the largest maritime drug seizure in Ireland’s history. However, it is not just the sheer amount of drugs seized or the audacious attempt to evade capture that has grabbed headlines, but the complex plot that is now unfolding in the aftermath.

An Irish Defence Force helicopter flies above the deck of the Matthew bulk carrier
Irish military forces storm the M/V Matthew via helicopter. Photo courtesy Irish Defence Forces

The Matthew, a Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier, began its journey in South America and is suspected of being used by organized crime gangs to transport large quantities of drugs into Europe.

The joint operation to capture the Matthew actually began a few days earlier on Sunday when a small trawler ran aground near Dublin. Authorities now suspect that the Matthew acted as a “mothership,” supplying drugs to smaller vessels that would then smuggle them ashore.

It seems the trawler that ran aground may have been just one of several shipments launched from the Matthew.

Initially, three men were arrested on suspicion of involvement in organized crime. As of Thursday, an additional four arrests have been made, with the possibility of more to come.

The 25 crew members of the Matthew are currently being detained for questioning, although it is uncertain if any of the seven individuals arrested so far are among the crew.

As the plot thickens on the Matthew, the incident serves as yet another example of how South American cartels and criminal gangs exploit international shipping routes to smuggle drugs into Europe.

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