Written Answers. - Drug Seizures.

Michael Noonan

Question:

134 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Finance if the powers granted to customs officials under the Customs & Excise (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1988, have been exercised in circumstances other than in matters relating to the availability and misuse of drugs; if the additional powers were used to procure search warrants to search private houses in pursuit of an allegation of the non-payment of an EU levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5361/00]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the Customs and Excise (MiscellaneousProvisions) Act, 1988, includes sections dealing with search warrants in relation to controlled drugs and to contraventions of customs laws, levels of customs penalties, detention of certain goods and other customs-related matters. Specifically, it provides for officers of Customs and Excise to search premises following the issue of a search warrant by a designated district judge or peace commissioner.

Under section 3 of the Act, a search warrant can be obtained to search premises or land for controlled drugs. Under section 5 of the Act, a search warrant can be obtained to search any, premises or place for books or documents reasonably believed to relate to transactions in contravention of the laws relating to customs.

Customs officers in the past have applied for and used search warrants specifically provided for under each of these separate sections of the 1988 legislation. Warrants under Section 5 have been used to search private premises in connection with an EU levy. Applications for such search warrants require specific authorisation by senior customs management and their subsequent execution is closely monitored and controlled by senior customs management. It is not clear what case the Deputy has in mind, but if he submits details I will have inquiries made and communicate the outcome to him.