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Gardaí probe link to ‘The Family’ drug gang after €8m heroin bust at Dublin’s Weston Airport

On Friday morning gardaí seized around 58 kilos of heroin at Weston Airport in west Dublin as part of an intelligence led operation.

The light airplane and drugs seized at Weston Airport

Weston Airport

Robin Schiller and Ken Foy

Detectives are investigating if 'The Family' gang were involved in a major plot to smuggle heroin into Ireland after the pilot of a light-aircraft was arrested over an €8m drugs haul.

On Friday morning gardaí seized around 58 kilos of heroin at Weston Airport in west Dublin as part of an intelligence led operation.

Gardaí carried out the search of a light-aircraft and a 4x4 vehicle nearby during which the huge haul, with an estimated street value of €8.1 million, was discovered.

Two Hungarian nationals, including the pilot of the aircraft, were arrested and are currently being detained under organised crime legislation.

The men, aged in their 40s and 60s, are being questioned at a garda station in Kildare and can be held for up to seven days.

The investigation is being led by gardaí from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) who are working with Customs.

A number of mobile devices and documentation have also been seized and will be analysed as part of the probe.

It's understood the plane had arrived in Weston Airport after departing from Germany, although investigators are in the process of confirming this and determining the planes exact flight path while liaising with international colleagues.

While the inquiry is at an early stage, gardaí are probing if the crime group known as 'The Family' had a significant role in the drugs enterprise.

The gang, led by two brothers and based across west Dublin, operate one of the largest drug networks in the country and are predominately involved in the large-scale importation of cocaine as well as heroin.

Weston Airport

One of the groups leaders, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also previously jailed over a major heroin seizure.

The gang has also been the target of an operation in recent years during which over €1m worth of heroin was seized.

At that time gardaí believe they foiled an attempt by The Family to forge drug smuggling routes with traffickers based in the UK and Turkey.

Following the operation, Assistant Commissioner Organised & Serious Crime, Justin Kelly said: "This is a hugely significant seizure of heroin, and the importance of disrupting criminal networks supplying this type of drug into our communities has been reinforced by the recent wave of overdoses in Dublin city centre.

"Worldwide, law enforcement agencies are seeing an increasing use of general aviation (non-commercial flights) to smuggle drugs.

"This operation shows the importance of multi-agency co-operation, in this case between An Garda Síochána, Irish Customs and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (MAOC-N) in Lisbon, Portugal. I wish commend the dedication and professionalism of all the personnel involved in this complex operation.”

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