A 31-year-old criminal suspected of running a major drugs network in Dundalk was the main target of dawn raids by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) yesterday.
Armed gardaí supported CAB officers as they searched four properties - the criminal's home, his partner's home, the house occupied by two of his close relatives and a property in which a gang member lives.
"This individual would not be big news on a national level, but he is suspected of running a significant cross-border drug dealing network," a source told the Herald.
Before yesterday's operation, gardaí had already seized €30,000 in cash from the Dundalk-based gang.
The main target has a number of previous convictions for assault, burglary, public order offences and theft and has been known to local gardaí, for whom he is said to have a "deep hatred", since he was a juvenile.
He is also a suspect in an arson case.
Announcing yesterday's raids, a garda spokesperson said: "Four residential addresses were searched during the course of the operation conducted by Criminal Assets Bureau personnel assisted by the Emergency Response Unit, the Regional Armed Response Unit, Louth Divisional personnel and the Customs Dog Unit.
"During the course of the search, €57,507 was frozen in two bank accounts and €4,770 in cash was seized.
"Around €30,000 in cash, believed to be the proceeds of crime, had already been seized as part of this ongoing investigation.
"The search operation is a significant development in the ongoing Criminal Assets Bureau investigation conducted in conjunction with local gardaí in the Louth division, targeting persons suspected to be involved in the sale and supply of illegal drugs."
It was a busy week for CAB after the agency froze €58,000 across a number of Irish bank accounts following several searches in Co Limerick on Thursday.
Three homes and a business were searched as part of an operation targeting a group involved in the sale of illegal drugs in Limerick city.
Apart from the money frozen in accounts, €2,450 in cash and £550 in sterling was seized, along with 12 luxury watches including a Rolex, Hublot and Breitling.
CAB officers were backed up by Limerick detectives for Thursday's raids.
In July, it emerged that CAB had returned more than €9.5m to public funds since the beginning of 2018.
More than €5m of this has come from Revenue legislation, under which the CAB can recover unpaid tax.