Tuesday 21 May 2019

Banks move large sums of cash off site in bid to thwart gangs

Gardai believe latest measures will prove effective weapon in the war on 'tiger kidnappers' motivated by drug debts

JIM CUSACK

BANKS are severely curtailing access to cash in a bid to put off the rampant gangs of so-called 'tiger kidnappers' who are moving out of Dublin, playing cat-and-mouse with specialist garda units, to target soft provincial banks.

Combined with the hefty 25-year sentences meted out in the High Court on Thursday gardai believe this will have a dampening effect on gangs.

Last Monday Bank of Ireland (BoI) put up signs in branches across the country informing customers that if they required to withdraw sums of more than €5,000 they would have to give 24 hours' notice.

According to bank sources it has been decided to curtail the amounts of cash as a last-ditch attempt to thwart the increasingly violent robbers.

It may have an impact. The gang that abducted the family of Kilkenny hurler and Bank of Ireland employee Adrian Ronan gave up after he told them there was only €200,000 available. They had been demanding €3m.

The banks, it is understood, are using staggered time-locks on cash safes and reducing the amount of cash in circulation. The 'tiger kidnappers' who struck before the Kilkenny job, kidnapping the husband of another BoI official in Lucan, also only succeeded in getting €300,000 as that was all that was available.

These greatly reduced sums, according to Garda sources, combined with the sentences meted out by Judge Tony Hunt in the High Court on Thursday are being tentatively welcomed by gardai as major deterrents to the gangs.

Judge Hunt's sentences, the heaviest non-murder sentences handed out for any crime for many years, sent a "big message" to the gangs, Garda sources said. Mick Farrelly (37) from Coolock and Jason Kavanagh (34) from Mulhuddart were described by gardai as "evil" yesterday.

While Christopher Corcoran (61) from Bayside, Dublin, received a lighter 12-year sentence, he is believed by gardai to have been the brains behind the kidnapping of the Richardson family and the netting of €2.28m -- none of which has been recovered. With remission for good behaviour, Corcoran will not be released until he is at least 70 years old.

The kidnapping, and a number of others in which sums in the millions were taken, inspired the latest spate of 'tiger kidnappings'.

Another motive driving the kidnappings is that one of the biggest drugs gangs in Dublin fell into hock with a Colombian drugs cartel over the massive seizure of 1.5 tonnes of cocaine off the west coast of Ireland in November last year. It is understood the gang owed the cartel €50m and is still struggling to pay off a large portion of the debt.

Much of the cocaine, which had a potential final street value of €700m, was destined for the British market, where the Dublin gang has close associations with English and Scottish gangsters who they met through social contacts on the Costa del Sol. This massive drug debt also drove the gang to begin killing minor dealers in Dublin who owed debts as a lesson to others.

The violence being meted out down the supply chain has led to the suicides of a number of minor dealers fearing severe retribution from the gangs they were indebted to. Three killed themselves in the space of three weeks at the start of the year.

Sunday Independent

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