Wednesday 13 December 2017

Dissidents linked to ATM raid

JIM CUSACK

Dissident republicans and their criminal associates are believed to be behind the latest ATM grab in south Armagh and a cannabis growing factory uncovered by gardai in Donegal.

A gang used a digger to steal an ATM from the Bank of Ireland branch in Crossmaglen at 6am yesterday. It was the 21st such robbery carried out in the North and in the border area since the start of last year.

As in the double ATM robbery in Cootehill last month, the gang loaded the ATM on to a low loader and set fire to the digger before escaping. The digger and a John Deere tractor also used in the robbery were stolen in Co Louth last Thursday night.

Meanwhile, gardai in Letterkenny are still questioning three men who were arrested under the Drug Trafficking Act last Wednesday evening when 1,500 cannabis plants -- with a potential street value of €500,000 -- were seized after a raid at a house in Carrigans, Co Donegal.

Two of the men are from Co Tipperary and the third is from Co Louth.

Raids were also carried out in Louth and Tipperary on Wednesday.

The cannabis operation involved the use of hydroponic equipment capable of producing hundreds of thousands of euros worth of the drug at a time.

The three men arrested can be held for questioning for seven days under the Drugs Trafficking Act.

Gardai are investigating links between the drugs operation and dissident republicans in the north-west. The 'Real' IRA in Derry and Donegal, along with other republican and criminal elements, have been extorting money from drug dealers in the area in recent years. Several men have also been shot in the legs and arms.

As well as their involvement in the drugs trade and the ATM robberies the dissidents are also heavily involved in cigarette smuggling and distribution.

Sunday Independent

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