GARDAI have found evidence indicating a growing involvement of republican activists in drug trafficking.
Officers say inquiries into a number of recent finds in several counties show that a number of former members of the Provisional IRA and activists with the Real IRA have moved into the drugs racket to make money.
In one case, gardai found that a prominent dissident republican figure in the Carlow-Kildare area was involved in the cannabis trade while at the same time he and his associates were trying to extort money from known drug dealers.
Officers said the republicans were using the Real IRA as a "flag of convenience" to put pressure on the criminals to hand over a slice of their profits. But the cash they were collecting was lining their own pockets, instead of being handed over to the organisation.
Last week, the Irish Independent disclosed that senior garda officers were concerned at the increasing role being played by ex-Provisionals in the new dissident republican alliance.
One anti-terrorist officer said last night: "We think that these ex-Provos have been looking on from the sidelines for the past decade and watching how their former leaders have carved out a nice life for themselves.
"They want a piece of the financial action and have been attracted back into terrorism to raise money," he added.