Armed officers find €250,000 in mattress woman was sleeping on as gardaí target gang led by 'socialite'
ARMED gardai who raided an apartment as part of an investigation into a global drugs and money-laundering operation being run from north Dublin have found €250,000 in a mattress a woman was sleeping on.
Six people, including the 24-year-old woman, were arrested when officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) raided six properties yesterday morning.
Gardai said the drug-dealing gang is backed by the Kinahan cartel and has been involved in trafficking cocaine into Australia and New Zealand and then laundering the money back to Ireland.
A 28-year-old socialite from Ballymun is suspected of being the organiser of the sophisticated enterprise but he was not among those arrested in yesterday’s raids.
Instead, it has emerged that this man – who is suspected of dealing cocaine to professional people in the capital’s top social circles – was himself arrested a number of weeks ago in relation to the same international police probe.
Details of the socialite’s top-secret arrest by DOCB officers were not released at the time but it is understood that a “considerable amount of documents” were seized from him.
“This fella is something of a drugs-trafficking entrepreneur, for want of a better word,” a source told the Herald.
“He is a socialite who likes the finer things in life, including being in the company of models and professional people.
“This drugs operation is suspected of being ongoing for at least three years and this individual is suspected of seeing a business opportunity on the other side of the world and going for it.
“Cocaine is up to four times more expensive in Australia than in Ireland.
“The socialite has been on the garda radar for years and he is closely connected to a north Dublin woman who is considered one of the capital’s most veteran heroin dealers.
“He has connections to many other criminal groupings across the city, including on both sides of the Hutch/Kinahan feud.
“He is considered a socialite who is often spotted in the company of models and has even dated a high-profile Irish model in the past.
“He is pals with members of the legal profession but he is also closely connected to some very serious criminals.
“These include the likes of Eamon ‘The Don’ Dunne, who took the socialite under his wing before he was murdered in 2010.
“Even though he was not arrested yesterday, a file on his role in this enterprise is already being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.”
Six of the socialite’s associates were arrested in the dawn raids yesterday and at least three of those held had recently returned from Australia, where they were suspected of drugs trafficking and money laundering. They are aged between 24 and 31 and have barely any criminal convictions between them.
One of the arrested men is a Dublin firefighter from the Swords area.
The Australian Federal Police have been investigating the activities of the Kinahan cartel for almost a year.
It is understood they have arrested a number of suspects in Australia and seized large amounts of cash.
Most suspects arrested in Australia have been so-called ‘drug mules’.
“This criminal organisation has been taking advantage of the fact that thousands of Irish people are working in Australia and there is a big market for cocaine among some of these people,” the source added.
“Gardai are satisfied that the cash which was seized yesterday is the proceeds of drugs trafficking in Australia.”
The source told the Herald that gardai believed the Kinahan-backed gang had been involved in trafficking drugs from South America to Australia, sometimes via Europe.
“A number of trusted people involved in the criminal network have then travelled from Dublin to Australia to oversee the drug-dealing operation out there,” the source said.
“The profits made from the enterprise have then been brought back to Dublin.”
Yesterday’s arrests happened after detectives raided properties in Drumcondra, Artane, Swords and Finglas.
The cash haul found in the mattress that the woman was sleeping on was found in an apartment in Drumcondra.
“It is bizarre to think that she was sleeping on all that money, but she was,” the source said.
More arrests are expected in the coming weeks, as the international police probe into the gang continues.
Speaking after the operation, Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, of Special Crime Operations, said: “This is further evidence of the enhanced level of co-operation that An Garda Siochana and Special Crime Operations in particular have engaged in in recent times with a view to tackling the organised crime gangs that operate at an international level.”
Last September, it was reported that the Kinahan cartel was attempting to establish itself in the Australian city of Brisbane.
It emerged that the Australian Federal Police had launched an investigation into a cocaine- smuggling syndicate which was being operated from a building material recycling business in Brisbane.
The drugs were valued at AUS$2.4m (€1.6m) and one man has been arrested in connection with the raid.
The drugs were sourced in Colombia before being shipped from Europe to Australia inside a digger bucket.
It was later claimed that it was the cartel itself that tipped off the Australian authorities about the Brisbane bust, in an attempt to pocket money from Australian criminals that it was doing business with.
It was also reported that the drugs seized in Brisbane were of extremely low purity.
The Kinahan cartel has long-standing links to drugs trafficking in Australia and in March 2015, one of its associates was jailed for four years and six months for possession of €20,000 of cocaine.
Ian O’Heaire, from Finglas, was jailed after being caught with the haul at Perth International Airport after ingesting 27 balloons of cocaine and attempting to smuggle it into the country after taking a flight from Dubai.