€71k seized from 'Moldovan mafia' forfeited to the State
Cash seized by customs officials which was claimed to be the property of the “Moldovan mafia” has been forfeited to the State as the proceeds of crime.
Customs officers seized the sum of €71,000 from Ramon Rodriguez with an address at San Isidor, Sabadell, Spain, at the Maldron Hotel at Dublin airport in February 2016.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Mr Rodriguez had been made aware of the application to forfeit the money to the state but he had indicated he was in fear of his life and would not be returning to Ireland. Mr Rodriguez said that the money belonged to the “Moldovan mafia.”
John Byrne BL, for the Revenue, outlined that Mr Rodriguez was identified getting off a flight from Barcelona on February 27, 2016 and followed to the hotel. He was observed getting into a car and on exiting the vehicle he was in possession of a bag.
He was approached by customs officials and asked about the bag. It was found to contain €71,000 inside a biscuit tin and bed sheets. During questioning Mr Rodriguez said he was to give the money to a Moldovan man in Spain and said he had collected items in a similar fashion before.
Mr Byrne said Mr Rodriguez has a previous conviction in the UK for the unlawful importation of 10 kilograms of cannabis for which he received a short sentence.
Counsel asked the court to forfeit the money under section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1994.
This legislation allows for the forfeiture of cash to the state in cases where the judge is satisfied, on the balance of probability, that the cash directly or indirectly represents any persons proceeds of, or is intended by any person for use in, drug trafficking.
Judge Karen O'Connor granted the order forfeiting €71,000 noting the circumstances of the case including the way the money had been concealed and the explanations given.