Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Farming 'insider' fed information to rural crime gang

Published 02/08/2016 | 02:30

Garda armed support unit Stock picture
Garda armed support unit Stock picture
The Garda helicopter

A farming ‘insider’ has been exposed as a key informant for criminal gangs operating in rural Ireland.

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The major breakthrough in the battle against thugs targeting farmyards and isolated premises stemmed from a recent gardai operation that saw three men captured following a cross-country chase involving the garda Armed Response Unit and helicopters.

Phone records retrieved from the mens’ phones identified the gang’s informant as a dairy farmer in the midlands who also provided a number of technical services to farmers in the region.

He is also believed to have established partnerships with landowners in the area.

Locals were shocked by the revelation, given the unprecedented access the gang’s source had to farmers’ yards – his access included security codes along with locations of keys and locks for gates.

Gardai are hopeful that the bust is the beginning of the end of the crime spree in the region. The gang targeted in the recent operation are believed to be linked with over 100 robberies in recent years.

The operation began with over 20 gardai spending five nights staking out a pick-up that had been discovered in a remote bog location. It had been stolen from a farmer in the previous weeks.

In addition to squad cars hidden in local farmyards, a number of helicopters were on stand-by in the area before the gang blew their cover. The men were apprehended after they attempted to evade a manned garda checkpoint on a laneway leading out of the bog.

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During the failed getaway, the men drove the stolen jeep across an unmarked garda car’s bonnet and crashed into an Armed Response Unit, before attempting to escape on foot. However, a garda helicopter was able to track the fleeing men with a powerful night light.

Four gardai were hospitalised during the course of the chase, with one suffering a broken leg and another a back injury. The squad car was written off.

The three men and their informer have been formally charged. Bolt cutters were recovered inside the jeep, which had been sprayed with sun-screen cream in an effort to destroy any DNA evidence.

Garda sources have warned that other compromised farmers are likely to be uncovered over the coming months as investigations progress.

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