Revenue and Gardai close in on cattle rustling gang
Gardai have identified the key members of a cattle rustling gang believed to be responsible for the majority of livestock thefts in the Border region over the past three years.
The highly organised gang of criminals is known to be operating on both sides of the Border and has links to legitimate businesses to help offload their stolen haul.
The alleged ringleader of the rustling outfit is a farmer with several properties north and south and he is the prime target for several agencies involved in tracking down the thieves and their associates.
Department of Agriculture officials have already hit the rustling boss financially and are understood to have stopped the payment of subsidies to him as a result of inquiries into suspected irregularities.
The alleged rustler has key associates based in counties Monaghan and Donegal while some of the gang are also based in Tyrone.
The cross-border dimension to their activities led to the setting up of a special investigation task force that includes the Garda, PSNI, Revenue and Customs here and their counterparts in Northern Ireland, as well as the Departments of Agriculture and the Food Safety Authority in both jurisdictions.
Revenue officials are currently carrying out an audit of the prime suspect's financial affairs while officers from the Criminal Assets Bureau are keeping a close watch on developments in those inquiries.
Task force inquiries have stretched from counties Cavan and Monaghan to Donegal and included Roscommon and Longford while also extending northwards to Tyrone and Armagh.