The typical age at which kids are becoming drug runners in a west Dublin suburb has fallen from 13 to 10 in the last four years, a report shows.
Research by the Blanchardstown Local Drug and Alcohol Task Force found children carrying and delivering drugs to local dealers are being groomed from an early age.
The shocking report indicates there has been a steady increase in the number of juveniles involved in drug dealing since the first annual study in 2016.
Children are being lured by the “social status” and “easy money” that comes with it, as well as family connections and rising drug debt intimidation.
The fifth annual Drug and Alcohol Trends Monitoring System 2020 focuses on Dublin 15, home to 110,000 people and a mixed socio-economic area.
The report found that while the norm (or typical) age of drug dealers had increased in the last three years — from 14 in 2017 to 16 in 2019 — the typical age of drug runners dropped from 13 in 2017 to 10 in 2019.
The youngest reported age of drug runners was eight in 2019, the same as in 2017, but higher than 2018 (age 10).
The youngest age for drug dealers was 12 in 2019, compared to 10 in 2017.
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The report noted: “It is likely that there is a link between the increasing levels of drug debt intimidation and under 18s drug running and dealing, whereby young people are forced to hold and sell drugs to pay off debts.”
Victims feared an escalation in intimidation if they went to the gardaí or were fearful of highlighting their criminal activity.
The report said families of users reported living with “fear, violence and financial implications” because of drug debt intimidation.
Research indicated that there has been an increase in dealing in secondary schools and by 2019 this had spread to all secondary schools in D15.
Cannabis herb and alcohol are still the most common drugs among young people. New trends are also emerging, including the use of cannabis edibles (sweets, chocolates and cakes), cannabis drinks, oils and wax.