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New charge for man in connection with MV Matthew seizure


A 30-year-old man who previously appeared in court charged in connection with the biggest drug seizure in the history of the State is facing a new charge.

2.2 tonnes of cocaine, with a street value of €157 million, was seized aboard a freighter off east Co Cork in the early hours of 26 September 2023.

Eight people have been charged in connection with the seizure.

Harold Estoesta, from the Philippines, was a crew member aboard the MV Matthew when it was detained in a joint task force operation involving Customs, gardaí and the navy.

Today at a sitting of Mallow District Court in Co Cork Mr Estoesta faced a new charge that on 4 September 2023, with knowledge of a criminal organisation’s existence, he participated in or contributed to activity intending to … facilitate a serious offence by that criminal organisation or its members.

Defence solicitor Aiden Desmond said that the book of evidence had yet to be served on his client even though he was first charged in connection with the seizure over six months ago.

Inspector Tony O’Sullivan told Judge Colm Roberts that he had been informed by the State that the book of evidence should be available on 7 May.

Judge Roberts granted the State an extension for making the book of evidence available. He indicated that he had previously expressed concern about delays in the serving of the book of evidence.

However, he stressed that the delay “in the biggest drug trial in the country” arose because of the “complexity of the case”.

Mr Estoesta was remanded in custody to appear again tomorrow via videolink in Mallow District Court, on the new charge.

He will also reappear before the court on 7 May in relation to his previous charge in the case.

Mr Estoesta, who required the assistance of a translator in court, was previously charged with possession of cocaine for sale or supply with a value in excess of €13,000 in Irish waters and for possession of cocaine for sale or supply with a value in excess of €13,000 outside of Irish territorial waters.

He was also charged with conspiracy to have in his possession, on 24 September, cocaine for sale or supply in excess of €13,000 in contravention of Sections 5 and 15a of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.


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