Seven men and one woman have appeared in court charged in connection to a major garda operation targeting the sale and distribution of drugs in Co Longford.
They were brought before a special sitting of Longford District Court this evening after up to 60 gardaí as well as members of the Armed Support Unit carried out nine searches at different premises resulting in the seizure of cannabis, cocaine, heroin and cash.
Three cars were also seized as part of an 18 month surveillance led operation involving officers from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and members attached to the Roscommon/Longford Divisional Drugs Unit.
In response to questioning put to her by Judge Seamus Hughes over whether the operation would likely have a significant or minor effect in thwarting the sale and distribution of controlled drugs in Longford, Inspector Bláithín Moran said: "I would hope it would be substantial."
She said a key factor in the ability of gardaí to bring eight suspects before the courts was the fact two officers from the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau had been drafted into Longford over the past year and a half with the sole purpose of infiltrating local drug dealing gangs.
She said the vast majority of transactions recorded by officers involved drug 'deals' of between €20 and €50.
Michael Stokes (32) 44 Palace Crescent, Longford was charged with four counts of cannabis possession as well as four charges relating to its possession for the purposes of sale and supply at various locations in Longford between July and August last year.
Martin Stokes (55), also of 44 Palace Crescent, Longford was charged with three counts of cannabis possession and four Section 15 sale and supply charges.
Patrick Stokes (21) 17 St Michael's Road, Longford was charged with a dozen counts of unlawful heroin possession, six of which involved the drug's intended sale and supply.
Sylvia Nevin (29) 41 Grian Ard, Ardncassa, Longford appeared accused of five drug related charges, three for unlawful cannabis possession for the purposes of sale and supply and two others for unlawful possession at a number of locations in Longford town which dated back to September last year.
Brian Stokes (20) of 10 Grian Ard, Ardnacassa, Longford and 61 Springlawn, Longford was charged with a total of six cannabis possession and sale and supply charges between July and August 2017.
Edward McDonagh (39) of 2 Victory Court, Earl Street, Longford, was also charged with half a dozen cannabis related charges, three of which involved the drug's unlawful possession with the remaining three issued for Section 15 sale and supply purposes.
Detective Garda Joe Esler, gave evidence of arresting, cautioning and then charging Mr McDonagh, adding that after putting four of the charges to him the accused replied: "I want to go to trial."
His response, Det Garda Esler said in relation to the two other charges was simply: "Not guilty."
Patrick Kelly (18) 7 Glebe View, Longford was issued with two counts of unlawful heroin and cocaine possession alongside two further counts of the possession of both drugs for their sale and supply at various locations in Longford town between October last year and February 2018.
Stephen Stokes (18) 10 Grian Ard, Ardnacassa, Longford was also charged with an overall six counts of unlawful cannabis possession, three of which involved the intended sale and supply of the controlled drug at a series of locations in Longford town last August and September.
All eight were granted legal aid and remanded on bail subject to a number of conditions including a 10pm to 8am curfew, to sign on three times a week and to remain contactable to gardaí over a 24 hour basis.
Ms Nevin's bail conditions were set to allow her to sign on once a week while Patrick Stokes is required to sign on daily.
Patrick Kelly, meanwhile, was ordered to stay out of licensed premises and to refrain from purchasing alcohol.
All eight were bailed to appear back at a sitting of Longford District Court on July 24.