Man who organised importation of cocaine worth €29 million sentenced to 15 years in jail

Entrepreneur and Trinity College graduate has final two years of sentence suspended

An entrepreneur and Trinity College graduate who organised the importation of €29 million worth of cocaine into the country has been given a 15 year sentence.

Gareth Hopkins (33) had been made redundant earlier in the year and told gardaí he was under financial pressure. He is also a director of a number of legitimate companies.

The court heard on a previous occasion that Hopkins was director of a recycling company and a mining company in Sierra Leone. He has a degree in Computer Science from Trinity college.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said Hopkins was highly involved in the importation of the cocaine which would have destroyed lives if it had reached the streets. She said he was the type of person who doesn’t come before the courts very often and different from the usual drugs courier.


Judge Ring noted Hopkins had lost his job before the offence but said that many people found themselves in similar situations without resorting to drug dealing.

She took into account his lack of previous convictions and admissions to gardaí and imposed a 15 year term with the final two years suspended. She also backdated the sentence to when he went into custody last year.

Hopkins pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cocaine for sale or supply at Ballycoolin, west Dublin and at his then home at Beech Park, Leixlip, Kildare on June 26th, 2012. He has been in custody since his arrest and has no previous convictions.

The court heard Hopkins had accepted responsibility for the entirety of the 423 kilograms of cocaine, valued at €29,627,934, imported through Dublin Port and concealed inside a number of wooden flooring planks which were part of a larger consignment.

The drugs were separated from the consignment and later seized at several locations in Dublin and Kildare. The purity of the cocaine was “quite high”, in the region of 65 to 70 per cent.

Judge Ring had previously adjourned sentencing to allow her time to consider testimonials handed into court. She noted the case was “clearly one of the more serious offences of this nature to come before the court” and said she must have regard to any similar cases.

Hopkins faced a presumptive minimum sentence of ten years and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Patrick Marrinan SC, defending, submitted there were “exceptional circumstances” in the case because of Hopkin’s background, his previous good character and indications he can again be a worthwhile member of the community.

He asked the court to accept that in 2011 and 2012 Hopkins appeared to have been acting “completely and utterly out of character.” He added Hopkins had not profited from this offence.

Mr Marrinan also said Hopkins made substantial contributions to charity between 2008 and 2011.