THREATS and intimidation from drug dealers have forced some families in West Cork in the past year to take out loans to pay off cocaine debts owed by family members.
That is the stark reality of modern day drug use, where those using the drug suddenly find themselves owing thousands of euro to dealers and are unable to pay it back.
‘Going back over the years that was a problem in Dublin or Cork, but now it is spreading right across rural Ireland,’ Insp Dave Callaghan – who heads up the West Cork Divisional Drugs Unit – told The Southern Star.
‘If a drug debt is outstanding and is not paid, the interest on it grows and grows by the hour. You could owe a dealer €3,000 but by the end of the week it could be up to €7,000.’
He said the use of cocaine is also a big problem in some GAA clubs across the county, and that it’s becoming a popular drug to use for those under the age of 25.
‘I know of one case – not in this county – where a weekend away was planned and the players then put in their orders for cocaine and one man was caught with the drugs.
‘It seems that those under the age of 25 are using the drug more, too. It’s prevalent in sports clubs across the board and that’s definitely a concern.’
Insp Callaghan said the problem of cocaine use is ‘across the social divide’ and seems to be the drug of acceptance now.
‘Many young people using the drug have selective tunnel vision and a flippant attitude in that they don’t want to know where their money is going, or the lives of families that are being destroyed by the drug,’ he said.
‘They think they are out having a good time and it’s all good until they get caught. They don’t care as long as they get what they want out of it. They can go out and take two or three lines of coke and they’re not hungover and they think everything is fine.’
Gardaí have seized approximately €175,000 worth of cocaine for sale or supply in the Cork West Division since January of last year. Insp Callaghan said that while Covid-19 has slowed down the social use of cocaine, as pubs and clubs are closed, the dealers are resourceful and are continuing to trade.