Ship carrying record seizure of cocaine in Limerick remains detained at Foynes Port

The Verila sailed into the Foynes Port on December 19 carrying an estimated €21m worth of cocaine. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

A CARGO ship found to be carrying the largest ever recovered consignment of cocaine seized in County Limerick remains detained by authorities at Foynes Port. The ship was first detected and searched shortly before Christmas and is still at the port under order.

The MV Verila bulk carrier sailed into Foynes on December 19 and was subject to a search by Revenue Customs Services officers supported by An Garda Síochána.

A Revenue spokesman told the Limerick Post that “approximately 300kg of cocaine has been seized and removed from the vessel”. The haul is believed to be worth as much as €21million.

“The vessel is detained by Revenue under section 33 of the Customs Act 2015,” the spokesman said.

The Revenue spokesman confirmed that “investigations are continuing, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána”.

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Two of the ship’s crew, Bulgarian nationals Kamen Petkov (35) and Nikola Yordanov Penchev (32), with addresses care of the 20,000-tonne Maletese registered ship, are before the courts charged in connection with the massive cocaine seizure.

Both men originally appeared before a special sitting of Limerick District Court, amid tight security, on Christmas Eve last, and again just before New Year’s Eve on December 29.

Both men are each charged with possession of cocaine contrary to Section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and possession of cocaine for sale or supply, contrary to Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, at Foynes Port on December 19, 2023.

Both Petkov and Yordanov were granted free legal aid after the court heard that neither man had any personal financial means.

The pair have been remanded to appear before the court again via video-link on January 9.

Four other men, aged 50, 46, 44, and 41, were arrested in connection with the investigation into the cocaine seizure and released without charge, pending Garda files to the Director of Public Prosecutions.