A CASH haul of €1.25m was still drying out in a garda station last night after it was seized from a criminal who dug it up in a boggy field.
Gardai in Limerick were continuing to dry and clean the thousands of notes, which they recovered on Saturday.
A 53-year-old criminal from Limerick, who previously ran a car valet business, was brought to Henry Street garda station in the city where he was questioned for two days after he was caught digging the cash from a field at Portcrusha, Castleconnell, Co Limerick.
When arrested, he was in a nearby container attempting to count the cash and drying it in a tumble dryer.
The cash had been buried and wrapped in plastic and put into boxes, but some of it had |deteriorated before the criminal used a digger to retrieve the cash more than six feet underground.
Despite being unearthed on Saturday, some of it was still very wet last night and garda officers were having to peel the notes one by one from each other. While officers are satisfied that the estimated sum amounts to €1.25m, they were last night still counting it for a third successive day.
Gardai in Limerick have also been in touch with the Central Bank in a bid to determine how quickly they can dry the notes.
The convicted drug dealer was released without charge last night while another man, aged in his 40s, who was also arrested at the scene, had previously been released.
The criminal served a six-year-sentence after he was caught with 14kg of cannabis in Limerick in 2000.
He had managed to keep a low profile on his release until recent months when gardai began their surveillance |operation.
The cash seizure came following a major surveillance operation on the Limerick criminal by officers from Henry Street garda station under the supervision of Chief Supt David Sheahan.
The operation had been ongoing for weeks.
Gardai are now focussing their enquiries on the origins of the €1.25m and how long it had been buried in the field.
It is not yet established how long the cash – in various denominations – had been stored there.
The field is just a few hundred yards from the banks of the River Shannon, downstream from Lough Derg and to the north east of Limerick city.
The field where it was found is said to be extremely boggy.
The land is frequently water- logged due to its proximity to the river and in recent years it has been subjected to extreme flooding.
Garda investigations are continuing.