THE State's most lethal strike force against gangland crime is now pursuing its top criminal targets beyond the grave.
The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is determined to recover the nest eggs built up by major gangland figures during their deadly but relatively brief careers as mobsters.
All of them came to the attention of the CAB and garda specialist units during their lifetimes of drug trafficking and other serious crime. But at the height of their powers they were gunned down by rivals.
Now the CAB is attempting to use their proceeds-of-crime powers to seize their wealth. While they will continue to pursue active criminals, the focus on the estates of dead criminals brings an "added dimension" to their work.
The list of murdered gangland targets includes:
- Martin 'Marlo' Hyland, murdered by close associates in a family member's house in Finglas, Dublin, in December 2006.
- Eamonn Dunne, who took over Hyland's mantle as the most-feared criminal in Dublin and was also the victim of a "hit" organised by former gang members in Cabra in April 2010.
- Michael 'Mica' Kelly, who filled some of the vacuum left by Dunne's murder but was shot dead by Real IRA gangsters in Clongriffin in north Dublin last September.
Despite their notorious reputations, none of the three amassed huge wealth. However, each owns a number of properties which the CAB is now focusing on.
The CAB has already secured initial "Section 2" orders, which set up their inquiries into the seizure of assets, and has been assessing their net worth.
They are aided by a significant judgment secured last month against convicted drug dealer John Gilligan.
An order was made that a number of properties owned by Gilligan and his family members should be disposed of and transferred to the Finance Minister.
In the case of a property owned by his daughter, Tracey, the judge found that she had paid for 20pc of the property. The judge ordered that when the property is disposed of, Ms Gilligan should receive 20pc of the proceeds.
Meanwhile, the CAB expects to hand over close to €7m from its investigations into criminal activities in 2011 to the Finance Minister to benefit the exchequer. This is consistent with the yields from previous years.
It also collected an additional €4m from revenue cases and recovered €400,000 in social welfare payments and saved another €500,000 by targeting 35 suspects.
Court decisions declaring properties to be the proceeds of crime were also handed down to the tune of over €7m, including some cases left over from 2010.
Also increasingly coming on to the CAB radar are the gangs netting massive profits from their involvement in cigarette and alcohol smuggling and fuel laundering, mainly in the border counties.