Garda suspended after 'falsifying documents for international criminal gang in return for cocaine'
Garda 'provided bogus insurance certificates in return for cocaine'
A garda has been suspended from duty following a significant investigation into his alleged links with an international crime group.
The Limerick-based garda is suspected of providing bogus insurance certificates and documents for the 'Rathkeale Rovers' gang. They are responsible for an international crime wave including the trafficking of rhino horns and is a target of several international police forces.
Gardaí believe that he was used by the gang after they uncovered "compromising" information on him.
Detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) raided a Limerick Garda station and 16 other homes as part of their probe into the garda.
His home was searched and he has been suspended from duty, but he was not arrested during the operation carried out between Thursday night and Friday morning.
Detectives suspect that the uniformed officer, who is aged in his 40s and originally from Munster, has been "effectively blackmailed" by the 'Rathkeale Rovers' gang over "compromising" information they had on him.
"The garda had become involved with this dangerous group because of a personal relationship he had with a woman who is connected to them," a senior source said.
"It is understood that he developed serious alcohol and drugs issues and this was used as leverage by the gang to help them out.
"He was falsifying insurance productions and certificates for this gang and was being paid in cocaine.
"This man is in very serious bother now," the source added.
Close to 30 gardaí and detectives were involved in the operation, led by the NBCI under the command of Detective Superintendent George Kyne.
Four detectives and five search teams were involved in the raid on the Garda station and homes which were searched, with documentation, phones, computers as well as two cars seized.
The garda's alleged involvement with the international crime gang came to light after criminals linked to the group were being routinely stopped for having no insurance.
The senior source said: "When diligent members of the force regularly stopped members of this crime grouping for road traffic offences, they would be directed to produce insurance and other motoring documents at a Garda station.
"However it is suspected that this officer then accepted and registered as legitimate, documents that were either forged or were invalid or simply did not exist.
"It is fair to say that this individual's career in the Garda is over.
"This case is essentially about corruption involving an organised crime gang," the source added.
The crime gang has been a primary target for Europol and is suspected of involvement in international crimes including money laundering, drug trafficking and organised robbery worldwide.