THERE is a truly international makeup to the nationalities involved in trafficking cocaine into Ireland.
African, eastern European, Dutch and Irish feature highly, with a scattering of British, American and Germans.
For the last three years (for which there are figures available), Africans accounted for more than half of all people arrested for cocaine trafficking in 2005 and 2007 and 30% in 2006.
Of these, the single most prominent nationality is Nigerian. In 2005, they single-handedly accounted for half of those arrested. In the other two years it was closer to a third.
The trend highlights two things: the first, and most obvious, is the use of Nigerian and African nationals to smuggle drugs, often inside their body at great personal risk.
The other thing is the relatively sudden emergence of west African, namely Nigerian, gangs in the cocaine trafficking trade — a trend highlighted in a number of United Nations reports in recent years.
A significant number of eastern Europeans have been arrested by Customs. In 2005, 7% of those arrested were Polish. In 2006, 10% were Polish and 17% were Estonian. In 2007, 9% of those arrested were Polish.