€20m of fake notes seized after major sting on dissidents
Gardai have seized up to €20m in counterfeit cash following a big operation against dissident republican associates.
Officers found the fake notes when they raided a lock-up premises in the Baldoyle area of north county Dublin yesterday.
They arrested a 52-year-old man from Coolock, following searches in the Coolock and Artane areas and he was being held for questioning last night.
He is detained at Coolock garda station under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and can be held without charge for up to 24 hours, excluding rest periods.
During the searches carried out by the Garda Special Branch, printing and computer equipment was also found.
One officer told the Irish Independent last night: "This is a huge haul and the seizure has prevented a lot of damage being done financially around the country. The forgery operation appears to have been well planned and it produced sophisticated counterfeit notes. These searches follow very detailed intelligence gathering by officers over the past couple of months," he added.
The garda raid followed an investigation in February when gardai smashed a major "fund raising" plan by the dissidents.
That resulted in the seizure of more than €2m in counterfeit money, most of it found at a printing press in a rented premises located between Clonee and Summerhill in county Meath.
Gardai initially seized fake notes, worth €20,000, in an operation at North Circular Road in Dublin.
But the Meath search revealed four boxes, with each containing €500,000 worth of counterfeit €50 notes, in various forms of completion.
Officers recovered a total of €110,000 in completed notes, which were described as very high quality fakes.
They differed from genuine notes in the watermarks, which had been superimposed on the fakes rather than embedded in them during their manufacture.
The full extent of the dissident scheme was emerging last night as detectives counted the number of notes found in the latest search. Gardai said they were concerned that notes of that quality were being manufactured.
One officer said: "To the untrained eye, they would pass quite easily, particularly if they were being distributed in pubs or nightclubs where money is exchanged very quickly.
"We're asking business people, in particular, to check their stock of €50 notes and look at what money they have.
"If they come across any suspicious notes, they should contact the gardai immediately," he added.
Gardai pointed out that if large amounts of the money had been flushed into circulation nationally, they could have damaged the reputation of the State and financially disadvantaged those, who had inadvertently taken receipt of the notes.
In the county Meath premises, gardai also seized two large industrial sized printing presses along with a cutting machine to carve out single notes from overall blocks of four, and computers to impose the graphics on the notes.