Tuesday 27 September 2016

CAB uses new powers to target lower-ranking gang members

Published 17/09/2016 | 02:30

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Officers from the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) have seized a high-powered car, registered in the name of an 18-year-old male, as part of an operation targeting a suspected organised crime gang.

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This was the first time that the Bureau used its new powers, introduced last month, to target middle- and lower-ranking members of gangs alleged to be involved in serious crime.

A key measure in the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act lowers the threshold value of property which can be pursued and seized by CAB from an existing level of €13,000 to €5,000.

The move paved the way for the Bureau to investigate assets that were regarded as beyond its reach up to then.

The legislation also allows CAB to seize property, which officers believe to be the proceeds of crime, and detain it for an initial 24 hours.

The detective chief superintendent in charge of the bureau now has the power to authorise the detention of the property for a further 21 days, while preparing an application to the High Court for an interim restraining order, and prevent its disposal in the meantime.

Bureau officers, backed up by local gardaí, searched two privately owned homes in Tallaght in south county Dublin yesterday morning and seized a high-spec Volkswagen Golf car, which has an estimated value of €20,000.

The car is owned by an 18-year-old but is suspected of being the proceeds of crime. Also seized in the searches was a luxury watch.

Gardaí told the Irish Independent last night that the raids on the homes were part of an operation targeting an organised crime gang suspected of travelling around the country to carry out burglaries and robberies.

Officers said further inquiries would now be carried out into the financial background of suspected members of the gang.

The legislation was piloted through the Dáil by Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald before the summer recess. It was brought in response to calls for the setting up of mini-CABs to tackle middle-ranking members of the gangs, who were purchasing expensive items, including cars, without any obvious means of legitimate financial support.

Community leaders were concerned that the gangsters were setting themselves up as role models for vulnerable young people who were being preyed upon.

The calls were made, particularly in Dublin's inner city, in the wake of the deadly Kinahan-Hutch feud and the huge increase in urban and rural burglaries and robberies, prior to the setting up of Operation Thor last November.

Following the first seizures under the legislation, the Tánaiste said last night: "We will face down the current threat posed by criminal gangs and will do whatever is necessary to ensure that nobody is above the law," she said.

"We have given the Criminal Assets Bureau the powers they need to move quickly to seize the proceeds of crime and to target assets held by middle- to lower-level henchmen. The relentless pursuit of those directing these gangs will continue", Mrs Fitzgerald added.

Inquiries into the assets held by main players in the Kinahan international crime cartel have been stepped up following significant seizures this week.

Irish Independent

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