A MASSIVE cross-border fuel laundering and smuggling operation headed by the former IRA chief of staff is back in business – a week after it was targeted in a major swoop by police and customs from North and South.
Security sources along the Border have confirmed that it was "business as usual" for Provo godfather Thomas 'Slab' Murphy and his organisation within days of the searches spearheaded by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Over €100,000 in cash and bank accounts worth €1.6m were frozen as part of Operation Loft. Officers also seized one of the largest fuel-laundering plants yet discovered in the bandit country of south Armagh along with 40,000 litres of fuel.
On Monday, the Irish Independent exclusively revealed that there was evidence that Murphy and his associates had been tipped off four hours before police SWAT teams from the PSNI and the ERU were dropped into the area by army helicopters at 6am.
Officers who had been monitoring the homes of Murphy and a number of other associates reported seeing several fires being lit at a number of the houses around 2am.
Officers later discovered the charred remains of laptops, computer disks and documents.
Now security chiefs on both sides of the Border are trying to identify how Murphy got wind that he was being targeted and if a mole is operating within a state agency in the region.
However, yesterday it appeared that the oil-laundering and smuggling operations were back up and running in south Armagh.
A security source said: "It is a vast industry with vast amounts of money being made and there is no way they are going to stop it. It was business as usual within a few days."
The Irish Independent understands that it is estimated that illegal fuel-laundering/smuggling turned over €100m during the past 18 months alone.
The CAB is involved in an international search to track down dozens of bank accounts which have been set up to launder the money.
It has also been discovered that Murphy and his organisation are supplying a network of filling stations across the country, some of which were also raided by gardai and Customs across 10 counties in the Republic last week.
Murphy's organisation has recruited a younger generation from south Armagh who have brought a greater level of sophistication to the business.
"These younger members of the group are using computer experts to develop the business including hi-jacking identities for the purpose of setting up false bank accounts," the security source revealed.
"They have also recruited a number of chemists who are using new methods of laundering diesel fuel which makes it difficult for customs to detect. It is very elaborate."