Blow to top gangs as gardai break cash ring
GARDAI have smashed a criminal network believed to have been responsible for ferrying the cash to purchase multi-million euro shipments of drugs in Europe for Irish gangs.
Senior officers are satisfied the network acted on behalf of several organised crime gangs from Dublin and Limerick, including the McCarthy Dundon outfit, over the past few years.
Last night two suspects were in garda custody after detectives from the national drugs unit seized an estimated €250,000 in cash, having intercepted a lorry in the Blanchardstown area of west Dublin.
Gardai are also actively investigating a link between the money find and the seizure of about 200 kilos of cannabis herb, with a street value of over €2m, in Rathcoole, Co Dublin.
Officers said last night that the loss of the money and the drugs -- which had cost a Dublin trafficking gang around €600,000 -- had dealt substantial financial blows to two crime gangs.
One of those being questioned last night is the suspected leader of the financial network, a 67-year-old businessman, originally from the northside of Dublin but living in Kilmeague, Naas, Co Kildare.
The man is suspected of having had links in the past to the Provisional IRA. He was detained after gardai carried out searches in north Kildare early yesterday. The earlier arrest of a man in his 30s from Blanchardstown came after the money was found in the truck.
Gardai said the seizures followed an intelligence-led operation over several months targeting organised crime gangs and their associates.
Detectives believe the network was transporting cash on behalf of the gangs in lorries making legitimate journeys to mainland Europe and the money was then used to pay for shipments of drugs being smuggled here by others.
They are satisfied that millions of euro were taken out of the country to finance deals struck by the gangs over the past few years.
The two men were being held last night at Blanchardstown garda station on suspicion of money laundering.
Meanwhile, other members of the national unit stopped a van in Rathcoole and searched three barrels in the rear of the vehicle. They discovered the 200 kilos of cannabis herb in the barrels.
Gardai last night described the hiding of the shipment as a very clever concealment.
They believe the drugs were destined for sale in the Dublin area.
Officers arrested a man in his 20s from west Dublin and he was taken to Clondalkin station for questioning under the drug trafficking legislation.
"Between the two seizures, the gangs have suffered a financial loss of around €850,000 and that is a serious setback to their criminal activities", one senior officer said.