Gardaí say they are satisfied that there is a substantial quantity of suspected drugs on board a ship that was impounded off the Cork coast.
The Naval Service, the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and the Army Ranger Wing earlier boarded the Panamanian registered cargo vessel, MV MATTHEW, which originated in South America.
Military and garda personnel boarded the ship with guns and it is now being escorted to the port of Cork.
It was detained in Irish waters off the south coast of Cork as it sailed to international waters.
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The operation was part of the investigation into an international drugs smuggling operation.
The MV MATTHEW was this evening tied in Cork Harbour at the Port of Cork's Marino Point facility.
Prior to docking, a large conting ency of Revenue officials and gardaí were waiting on the jetty.
The bulk carrier took almost two hours to come up the river from Roche's Point to Marino Point.
A second boat, a trawler, remains wedged on a sandbank approximately 12km north of Rosslare.
Three men, aged 60, 50 and 31 have been arrested and are being held at garda stations in Wexford.The cargo ship was taken by force in the major military operation. It is believed the ship did not stop or comply with directions to allow the Irish authorities to board and military personnel engaged.
Irish authorities suspect the ship is involved in trafficking cocaine across the Atlantic Ocean and transferring it to smaller ships for distribution to different European markets.
Naval officers had to fire warning shots. The Armed Ranger Wing had to fast rope on to the container ship from the air onto the deck and seized it.
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The size and height of the ship meant it could not be boarded by sea without co-operation.
These highly trained military personnel are the only ones in the country who can do this and while they have previously practiced this in manoeuvres, this is believed to be the first time it has been done for real.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee congratulated gardaí and the other State and international bodies involved in the operation.
In a statement she said: "This Operation has resulted in the detention of a bulk cargo vessel originating from Latin America with a significant volume of drugs on-board, which would have no doubt been destined for Irish and European markets. It will represent a blow to the organised crime gangs involved in drug distribution internationally."
Meanwhile, speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, Michael O'Sullivan, former Assistant Garda Commissioner, and former head of the EU's anti-drugs smuggling agency, the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre, described the Irish Naval service as the "unsung heroes of Europe".
"Europe is very much dependent on the Irish naval service monitoring, tracking vessels and even intercepting vessels, so the more assets they have available, the better it is all round for everybody."
He said drug traffickers figure which route has the "least resistance", so if "there is not enough naval vessels off the coast of Spain or off the coast of Ireland, they will try manoeuvring through those routes".
Mr O'Sullivan said the container loads of cocaine that is being shipped across the Atlantic "is a reflection of the amount of cocaine available, but also the amount of money available in Europe".
Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces Lieutenant General Sean Clancy commended the "courage, discipline and professionalism" of all personnel involved in the operation.
He added: "The significant intelligence led planning by the Joint Task Force enabled the coordination and execution of this complex multiagency operation.
"This operation demonstrated the importance of all services of the Defence Forces and their ability to operate in the most challenging of conditions."