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Gardaí raid 31 different sites in organised crime probe

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CAB officers during a raid on Finnstown House, in Lucan, Co Dublin. Picture: Padraig O'Reilly

CAB officers during a raid on Finnstown House, in Lucan, Co Dublin. Picture: Padraig O'Reilly

CAB officers during a raid on Finnstown House, in Lucan, Co Dublin. Picture: Padraig O'Reilly

More than 200 gardaí were involved in a massive security operation yesterday in which 31 properties were searched as part of an investigation into the country's biggest organised crime gang.

The huge operation which was spearheaded by the Organised Crime Unit (OCU) began around 6.30am yesterday, with searches continuing throughout the day.

Officers from the Emergency Response Unit, Criminal Assets Bureau, National Drug Unit, Fraud Squad and local detective units, backed up by a Garda helicopter, were involved in the search operation which had been in planning for several months.

A total of 31 private residences and business properties in Dublin, Cork, Kildare and Louth were searched.

The Finnstown Castle Hotel in Lucan, west Dublin, which is managed by Jim Mansfield Junior, was searched, as well as a number of apartments in the Citywest complex which was developed by Mr Mansfield's father Jim Senior, who died last year.

Gardai confirmed that a large amount of documentation, computers, cash, antique furniture and paintings were seized during yesterday's searches, as well as two firearms, a shotgun and handgun.

An original Picasso print is also believed to be among the items.

No arrests were made in the course of the operation - which gardai say was intended to gather evidence in a number of investigations into organised crime and money laundering.

The planned operation was also part of an investigation into the gangland murder last year of notorious Traveller crime boss, 'Fat' Andy Connors.

Connors was gunned down at his home as a result of a dispute with another crime family over money.

Last May, Finnstown Castle was the centre of another major security operation, when Garda special branch officers found a large IRA bomb hidden in a car which was parked in the grounds.

The discovery of the powerful device forced the evacuation of a wedding in the hotel.

Gardaí believed that it was about to be transported to Northern Ireland.

Last October, it also emerged that Jim Mansfield Junior had been warned by gardaí that his life was in danger - but sources said that this had nothing to do with yesterday's operation.

It is understood that the threat came to light as a result of garda investigations into the murder of Andy Connors.

At the time, Jim Mansfield Junior denied that there was a threat against his life.

"I wouldn't see any reason why anyone would want to harm me," he said.

Insisting that he had "bigger worries", a defiant Mr Mansfield claimed the threat to his life was "news to me".

Mr Mansfield currently runs the Finnstown Castle Hotel which was once owned by his father before it went into receivership in 2011.

It was bought in 2012 by Louth businessman Kevin McGeough for €4.25m.

However, Jim Mansfield Junior moved back into the premises shortly afterwards and is managing the hotel.

He even renamed the bar in the hotel Jim's Bar.

He was a regular on the celebrity social scene at the height of the Celtic Tiger years and had a relationship with tragic model Katy French, who collapsed and died after taking cocaine in December 2007.

Irish Independent