CAB clampdown sees travelling burglary gangs face €4m tax bill
Travelling gangs who have terrorised rural and urban communities over the past few years are facing demands of over €4m from the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) for outstanding tax debts.
The bureau is attempting to confiscate properties and other assets in part payment for tax demands that have already been served.
This is the latest move by the CAB against the gangs that continue their crime wave in parts of the country, despite a series of successes by local gardaí and specialist units.
The measures to hit the burglars follow a previous operation that netted almost €1m against some of the targeted groups through a combination of using the Proceeds of Crime legislation, action by the Revenue authorities and the Department of Social Protection.
Many of those being hit are key targets for Operation Thor, which was set up in November 2015 and has resulted in a drop of 32pc in residential burglaries and 31pc in non-residential burglaries across the State.
The CAB is involved in 20 separate inquiries into the main travelling gangs - who are setting up surveillance to select likely victims.
The CAB is using Thor to build on successes previously achieved as a result of an operation codenamed Pelican, which began in 2010 and concentrated on a travelling gang based primarily in south county Dublin but with associates located in Co Kildare and elsewhere.
This investigation has uncovered a network of accounts containing almost €1m in cash and believed to have been used to launder the proceeds of burglaries and theft-related offences throughout the country.
The CAB is also seeking to seize several properties from another travelling outfit, which is facing a revenue debt of over €2m.
And a similar amount is being sought from a separate south Dublin gang for tax, while a large number of vehicles has been confiscated from its members as proceeds of crime.
Burglary gangs based in counties Laois, Wexford and Mayo are also being pursued by the CAB, arising out of Garda investigations into burglaries and/or drug trafficking.
Meanwhile, a separate investigation, codenamed Oakleaf, has been aimed at travelling gangs originally from the Rathkeale area of Co Limerick, but suspected of being involved in crime throughout Ireland, Britain and mainland Europe.
One outfit has been tackled as a result of its involvement in the illegal rhino horn trade, while another is suspected of dealing in cigarette-smuggling and drug-trafficking, and following inquiries last December the CAB seized a substantial amount of cash and high-end watches.
Investigations were carried out into the activities of 25 members of one organised crime gang from Co Limerick and around €1m has been collected so far following Revenue assessments, while agreements are in place for a further €1m.
Oakleaf inquiries have included the participation of Europol, while in an investigation into a gang suspected of the theft of rhino horn and Chinese artefacts, the CAB worked closely with US agents and British police officers.