A PRISON officer was being questioned by gardaí last night after one of the biggest investigations into smuggling of illegal contraband into Irish prisons.
The man was arrested in Limerick at 8pm on Monday night in possession of drugs and mobile phones which he was trying to bring into Limerick Prison.
The arrest was made following a covert Garda operation, led by members of the divisional drug squad based at Roxboro Garda station in Limerick.
The prison officer was arrested en route to Limerick Prison with 35 mobile phones and €3,000 worth of drugs.
The major portion of the drugs seized was cannabis.
However, it is understood a small amount of ecstasy tablets was also found.
It is understood the operation, which had been going on for a number of months, was part of investigations into serious criminal activity across Limerick city.
The prison officer was being held at Roxboro Garda station in Limerick last night under sec- tion two of drug trafficking legislation.
He can be held for up to seven days.
A Garda spokesman confirmed that the drugs were sent for technical examination yesterday.
More searches were being carried out yesterday by gardaí at the prison officer’s home in Co Clare.
Sources confirmed that the man concerned has worked for almost 30 years as a prison officer.
The Irish Prison Service confirmed yesterday that the man arrested was a “serving prison officer”.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, two men were detained following the discovery of €28,000 worth of herbal cannabis at a house in Rochfortbridge, Co Westmeath, over the weekend.
The men, both foreign nationals, were arrested and detained under the Drug Trafficking Act following a planned search by gardaí and Customs officers last Friday.
Both men were later released and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the matter.