The operations of one of the country's most prolific drug-trafficking gangs have moved to a leafy south Dublin suburb, with gardaí probing whether it has pumped money in to a gym.
The gym was one of five properties raided by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in searches which kicked off at 5.30am yesterday in its latest drive against 'The Family' gang.
Its primary targets are convicted heroin dealer Brian Grendon (42) from Ballyfermot, whose gang is considered one of the most prolific drug networks, along with one of Grendon's closest associates.
"The investigation is focused on the ownership of property, including houses and investment by an organised crime group into a gym in Dublin," a Garda spokesman said.
"Specialists examined expenditure on residential properties that may represent the proceeds of crime," he added.
Investigators felt the need to draft in the heavily armed Emergency Response Unit (ERU) for yesterday's raids because of concerns about the gang's access to firearms.
While no guns were found, officers did seize an Audi Q5 SUV and a Toyota Hilux pick-up as well as documentation in the latest in a series of dozens of raids against the gang in an investigation codenamed Operation Compact.
Two houses in Ballyfermot and Ballycullen strongly linked to the gang were searched yesterday morning. A solicitor's office and accountant's firm were also visited by specialist officers, backed up by the customs' dog unit.
Pressure continues to grow on 'The Family' gang which is also main targets for the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB). This led it to shut down a car sales business last November which was being used as a front for its drugs trafficking operations.
"The gang has used its drugs money to invest in other businesses. A lot of this was the car-sales sector but it has moved into gyms, shops and other businesses as well," a senior source said.
"The information is that it invested significant cash into the gym that was raided in this phase of the investigation," the source added.
The raids were the latest move by the CAB against 'The Family' since they seized a €67,000 Range Rover in Clondalkin earlier this month for VRT offences. Brian Grendon along with his older brother Philip are classified as two of the main leaders of the gang whose strongholds are in the Clondalkin and Ballyfermot areas.
Brian Grendon was jailed for six years in December, 2002, for the possession of €1.9m worth of heroin in a Palmerstown pub in November, 2001.