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Two men arrested as £66,440 in cash found in car panel

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Fraud squad detectives have launched a major money-laundering investigation after they seized £66,440 sterling and made two arrests as part of a major operation at Dublin Port.

Two suspects were arrested shortly after midnight yesterday and the money, which equates to around €75,600, was found hidden in the car which the men were travelling in.

The arrested men were an Irish national, from Cork, aged 35 and a Lithuanian national aged in his late 40s, who also lives in Cork.

Neither were previously known to gardaí for involvement in serious crime.

"Gardaí believe that these men were laundering money for an organised crime gang with international dimensions," a senior source told the Irish Independent last night.

"Obviously the money was coming into the country from the UK and it had been hidden in a panel of a car to avoid detection.

"The big question now is trying to establish who these men were working for - that is not yet known," the source added.

Gardaí yesterday announced details of the successful operation.

"Just after midnight, members from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB), assisted by gardaí from the immigration unit in Store Street and the Armed Support Unit, stopped a car as it arrived into Dublin Port at a Covid-19 checkpoint," a Garda spokesman said.

"An initial search of the car uncovered cash hidden behind a panel.

"The car was seized for technical examination and more cash was discovered during a follow-up search. In total, £66,440 was seized.

"The occupants (two men in their 30s and 40s) were arrested at the scene and are currently being detained at Store Street garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984."

Sources say that despite the coronavirus crisis, cash-strapped criminals are continuing to attempt to launder money both nationally and internationally.

Irish Independent