Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rough Seas

A man walks into a pub......

No, not that old joke. In this case, a man walked up to a house off the coast of Cork and asked the occupant to ring up the Coast Guard. His boat had tipped over, and his friend was still out in the water, in need of help. The man was soaked through, said he had swum to safety, and it sounded like a reasonable story.

The Coast Guard scrambled and found the unfortunate boater.....along with a tonne of cocaine.

Gardai found another pair of middle-aged gents trying to run through fields to get away, but even a young man would have had a hard go of it. They are also under arrest.

As best as can be pieced together, the men in the overturned dinghy were involved in a smuggling operation in which boats from South America would approach isolated areas of the Irish coast. The drugs, nicely wrapped up in waterproof bundles, would be off-loaded onto inflatable boats and brought ashore for distribution. Unfortunately for the criminal gang, they were working in rough seas and one of the gang took pity on his drowning mate and brought the whole thing crashing down.

The thoughtful drug smuggler has given a false name, which was traced to a child that died shortly after birth. The man's Irish passport was just as false, as was the name of the British solicitors who supposedly obtained it for him. Further investigation revealed that a group of men, including those now under arrest, rented a house on the Sheep's Head peninsula and told everyone they were going diving. A search of the house revealed a trove of satellite and navigation equipment, which would certainly come in handy when one is trying to locate a small ship stuffed to the gunwales with drugs.

Gardai are talking to their colleagues in England, Spain, South Africa and the US, to figure out who exactly they have in hand and who else might be involved. There will be a lot of questions asked in the coming weeks, and a large drug smuggling ring will come to an end as a result.

And all because one man was kind enough to seek help for a friend who could not swim.

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