Seven 'Hole in Wall' gang suspects arrested in raids
Gardai have recovered a "treasure trove" of stolen property -- including a safe -- during an investigation into the activities of a gang suspected of carrying out more than 70 crimes in the past year.
Last night, seven suspected members of what became known as the 'Hole in the Wall Gang' were in garda custody.
Those arrested included two brothers and their uncle and all the suspects are from the Carlow area. They were being questioned under anti-gangland legislation, which allows gardai to hold them without charge for up to seven days.
The crime spree was carried out in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Wexford over the past two years and included a series of armed robberies, ATM raids, theft of vehicles and JCBs, and criminal damage.
Gardai from the south-eastern region, led by Det Supt Dominic Hayes, recovered the stolen property during a search of a number of warehouses in Carlow town.
These were followed by 11 co-ordinated raids in Carlow and Laois yesterday morning when local gardai were backed up by the regional support unit, detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Customs Service officers.
More than 60 gardai were involved in the operation, which stemmed from months of intelligence gathering.
A gun silencer and a small number of cannabis plants were recovered in the searches.
Two of the suspects, in their teens, were being held last night at Carlow station; while two in their 20s were detained at Kilkenny. The other three suspects, in their 20s and 30s, were being held at Thomastown, New Ross, and Thurles stations.
All were being questioned about their alleged participation in armed robberies and ATM raids.
In one robbery, the gang entered through the roof of Iceland in Carlow, hours after the shop's first day of trading in the town. Two safes containing €60,000 and a €10,000 float were stolen in the raid last November.
Last October the gang used a JCB to steal an empty safe from a post office in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, in the mistaken belief it was filled with cash.
The gang had earlier severed the phone lines and disabled the alarm before demolishing the post office's front wall with the mechanical digger, which had been stolen in Hacketstown, Co Carlow.
The gang also used a stolen low loader and digger when they ripped out an ATM from the Bank of Ireland branch at Kilree Street in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, in April 2010 .
But the gang was forced to flee empty-handed when a garda patrol car arrived on the scene.
The raiders rammed into the garda car as they made their escape.