I am aware that An Garda Síochána is reporting increased seizures of cocaine, evidence of increased circulation of the drug, which I accept is a worrying development. The expansion of drug markets to the online environment, including via social media, is proving challenging for law enforcement worldwide, as the Internet and the darknet facilitate the movement of drugs, money and information across global borders. I understand that international experience is that when a website selling illicit substances is taken down, it will almost immediately be replaced by another active site.
I am sure the Deputy will agree that interagency and international collaboration are, therefore, critical in disrupting online markets. An Garda Síochána liaises with Revenue, the Health Products Regulatory Authority, HPRA, and its European and international counterparts to comprehensively disrupt trading activity and online markets at the earliest opportunity. However, we have to accept that prosecutions for drug-related cybercrime are by their nature difficult. An Garda Síochána has adopted a multidisciplinary approach to tackling drug-related cybercrime via improved control, risk management and profiling to detect, investigate and prosecute the persons involved. The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau leads in tackling all forms of drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs in Ireland, including monitoring and tackling the sale of drugs online. Gardaí from the bureau participate in various European projects such as the European multidisciplinary platform against criminal threats, which is co-ordinated through Europol and the Council of Europe's Pompidou working group on drugs online. This working group seeks to harmonise the approach to the investigation of cyber-enabled drug trafficking and serves as a point of contact for all appropriate partners, including engagement with the private sector.