Written Answers. - Importation of Drugs.


asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to increase the number of customs and excise officers to deal with the illegal importation of drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that it is not intended to increase the overall number of customs and excise officials specifically to deal with the illegal importation of drugs. As I informed the House on 28 June 1984 in response to a number of questions concerning the illegal importation of drugs and on 15 November 1984 when speaking on the second report of the Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism, it is the responsibility of all officers of customs and excise employed at points of entry to the State to be on the alert to detect drug smuggling and consequently all such officers receive training in the identification and detection of drugs and staff at entry points have been issued with the most modern drug identification equipment available.

The Customs Investigation Branch already plays a key role in combating illegal drug smuggling and it combines with local staff as necessary in making seizures. A higher officer and an officer from this branch are specifically assigned to the task of maintaining liaison with the Garda and with enforcement agencies in many other countries and for the gathering and use of intelligence concerning illegal drugs.