THREE men have been arrested after a raid on a counterfeit cash gang.
Two dissident Republicans and a major criminal are in custody after gardai busted a printing press and seized €20k in counterfeit money.
Heavily armed detectives raided a premises in Summerhill, Co Meath at 1.30pm yesterday and discovered a printing press, €20,000 in fake cash and a number of computers.
The three suspects, all in their 40s, were being questioned at Mountjoy and the Bridewell garda stations.
A number of follow-up searches took place in Dublin this morning.
A senior source described the SDU's operation as a “major coup” against dissident republicanism.
“This was a highly sophisticated counterfeiting operation and these men had been under surveillance for many weeks,” a source said.
The Herald can reveal that one of the suspects is on bail after being charged with membership of the IRA last year at the Special Criminal Court.
He is a 46-year-old man from Dublin's north inner city who was arrested on Good Friday last year after a search of a commercial premises in Clondalkin as part of a garda investigation into the activities of dissident republicans.
The other arrested dissident republican is considered one of the main leaders of the IRA in Dublin.
He has risen up the ranks of republicanism since the murder of Real IRA chief Alan Ryan in September 2012 and is considered one of three men who control dissident activity in the capital.
Sources say the third man is a well-known criminal who works with gangs in both Co Meath and Dublin.
The counterfeit cash scam was described today as being “extremely elaborate”.
A source said: “The garda operation has made sure that the country has not been flooded with dodgy bank bills.”
Yesterday’s operation is the biggest counterfeit cash seizure by gardai since detectives raided an underground bunker in Co Laois in June 2010.
On that occasion, enough ink and specialist paper was found to produce €200m worth of €50 and €100 notes.
The operation leading to the discovery of the underground bunker near Borris-in-Ossory in 2010 started when police across Europe began detecting the near-perfect notes.
An international operation was put into place stretching as far as Japan, where it is believed materials were sourced.