Kinahan cartel figure held in probe into money laundering
Rolex watches, SUVs and designer clothes seized in morning raids
A senior Kinahan cartel lieutenant was arrested in connection with alleged money laundering offences as part of a major CAB investigation.
Convicted drug dealer Graham 'The Wig' Whelan (36) was arrested at his Dublin home by detectives yesterday.
Heavily armed gardaí attached to the force's Emergency Response Unit (ERU) were used to raid some of the 18 properties searched yesterday as part of the significant money laundering probe.
A €58,000 Rolex watch seized during the search of a house in Kildare was linked to a woman who is related to a famous sport star.
This woman has no involvement in criminality, but gardaí believe a man known to her is connected to Whelan through a business.
Whelan is considered to be a senior associate of the Kinahan cartel's Dublin branch and is also involved in the drug trade in Liverpool.
In total, 18 homes and businesses linked to Whelan were searched including solicitor firms, a car business and the criminal's home.
He was last night being held at Irishtown garda station for questioning over alleged money laundering offences.
Seven luxury Rolex watches were seized along with two SUVs, a 152 Nissan X-Trail and a 141 Land Rover Discovery.
A GPS tracker, designer clothing and documentation related to assets and finances were also recovered along with mobile phones.
Gardaí said that "evidence of considerable expenditure" on a number of Dublin homes was also obtained and is being analysed by an expert for the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).
Several properties in Walkinstown, which are linked to Whelan but registered under different names, were searched as well as a house on Clonard Road in Crumlin.
Armed gardaí were also involved in the raid on a house near Maynooth while a business in Malahide was also searched.
The major Garda operation, led by the CAB, began shortly before 6am yesterday when detectives, local gardaí and armed units simultaneously raided a number of properties.
The CAB was assisted by detectives from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB), for whom Whelan is a prime target.
Gardaí from the Kildare region, the Air Support Unit, the Dog Unit as well as detectives and Drugs Unit officers from the Sundrive and Crumlin stations also assisted.
In a statement, gardaí said the operation was targeting "the assets and activities of an international organised crime gang involved in the sale and supply of controlled drugs".
They added that it "is a significant development in the CAB investigation and will be seen as a major upset to the network used by this organised crime gang to launder the proceeds of their drug dealing activities".
Originally from Clonard Road, Whelan has been based mainly in Liverpool and Ibiza, where he is suspected of being heavily involved in the cartel's operations. However, in recent years he has been back in Dublin on occasions and was arrested on foot of outstanding bench warrants last year and briefly detained.
Whelan was a close friend of cartel figure David Byrne, who was shot dead in the Regency Hotel in February, 2016. Whelan was also central to the drugs bust that led to the bitter Crumlin/Drimnagh feud breaking out in 2001.
In February of that year, he was jailed for six years for possession of IR£1.25m worth of ecstasy tablets and cocaine at the Holiday Inn, on Pearse Street, in Dublin, a year earlier.