IT IS a sure-fire way of boosting the Garda performance in the war against drugs.
Gardaí have now reclassified the cost of cannabis at €12 per gram, increasing it by six times from its previous level of just €2 a gram.
The new value means that seizures will appear – in the media and to the public – as being more successful than they have previously been.
Provisional figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune show that gardaí have seized just 85kg of cannabis so far this year. However, the stated value of that haul in figures released through the Department of Justice give a street value of €1.024m.
The figures, which cover just the first quarter of the year, put gardaí well on their way to outdoing last year's €1.8m worth of seized cannabis.
On closer inspection, it emerges that a total of 947kg of cannabis were seized last year. That itself was a slight improvement on 2007 when 774kg, or around €1.5m, worth of cannabis was discovered by gardaí.
The amount of cocaine being seized this year has also shown a marked decline with just 12kg – worth €862,000 – of the drug taken in operations.
That compares to an incredible haul of €117m worth, or 1,681kg, of the drug that was seized in 2008.
Gardaí also seized almost €123m worth of cocaine in 2007 but figures for each of the past two years were given significant boosts by the one-off discoveries of massive drug hauls in west Cork.
Drug hauls for the first three months of this year are well down, with just €10m worth of narcotics found. It means gardaí are on target to seize just €40m worth of drugs this year, down from a high of nearly €200m in 2008.
Seizures of all types of drugs are down, with €5m worth of heroin seized from January to March. Gardaí have also seized 12,118 ecstasy tablets and 139g of the liquid form of MDMA despite their belief that 'E' is regaining popularity amongst casual users.
According to garda figures, €199.63m worth of drugs were seized in Ireland during the course of 2008. Police across the world estimate that just 10% of all narcotics are actually seized, making the country's illicit drugs trade worth at least €2bn.
The Department of Justice said: "An Garda Síochána is satisfied that, in addition to the considerable volume of drugs seized in the last two years and again this year to date, there has been a significant impact on drug-trafficking by the arrest and prosecution of a number of major players involved.
"The activities of a number of crime gangs have been disrupted, resulting in a number of crime groups being dismantled.