Gardaí believe that the Kinahan organised crime group is involved in a smuggling operation that saw the seizure of cocaine worth €8.4 million, which was flown into Co Longford on a private plane.

Two men have been arrested and the plane was also seized by gardaí.

A quiet remote airfield in Abbeyshrule was used by a transnational organised crime gang to land a substantial quantity of cocaine into the country.

Under Operation Tara, two cars were stopped in the Lough Owel area of Co Westmeath shortly after 6pm yesterday.

In one of the cars they found six holdalls and one suitcase, with 120kg of cocaine wrapped in green tape, which is estimated to be worth €8.4m.

The drugs were produced in South America and smuggled into Europe. They were flown to Ireland yesterday in a Cessna light aircraft, before they were transferred to a waiting car.

Follow-up searches were carried out at houses in Naas, Co Kildare, and Waterford city, and at the airfield, where the aircraft was seized. Several communications devices were also found.

Gardaí believe the plane that brought the cocaine to Ireland took off in France and that the Kinahan gang is behind the sophisticated smuggling operation.

The operation was led by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and they are liaising with international law enforcement agencies.

Two men, aged 40 and 54, were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking and are being held at Ashbourne Garda Station in Co Meath.

120kg of cocaine was seized

Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly, who is Head of Organised and Serious Crime, said the operation "has prevented a considerable quantity of dangerous drugs from making it onto our streets and causing significant harm to our communities".

"An Garda Síochána is committed, under Operation Tara, to disrupting and dismantling the organised criminal networks who profit from drug trafficking and impact so negatively on our society," he added.

Detective Chief Superintendent Séamus Boland said that "valuable assistance" is being received from international parties.

"Unfortunately, once again this shows that significant levels and high-level organised crime, transnational groups are operating in this country and are transporting significant amounts of cocaine and other drugs into Ireland," he said.

In the first six months of 2022, local gardaí and divisional drugs units seized more than €16.4m worth of controlled drugs.

Yesterday's seizure brings the total value of drugs seized by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau to more than €35m.

He said that this means that in excess of €50m worth of controlled drugs have been removed from the supply chain before reaching the streets.