A 20-year-old criminal with links to the gangs involved in serious organised criminality in Drogheda is due to be sentenced next month in a landmark money mule case.
Sean Everitt, from Hill View, Drogheda, Co Louth, is already serving sentences for drug dealing and aggravated burglary but he can expect more prison time after he admitted having €10,000 in his bank account which was the proceeds of crime.
It is understood he was to be paid about €1,000 for the use of his bank account which he hoped would go towards paying off a drugs debt to one of the violent gangs involved in the deadly Drogheda feud.
However, Everitt was caught after he unsuccessfully attempted to withdraw the cash from a bank in August, 2019, in an incident which was caught on CCTV.
Sources say that the bank had the money locked and gave information to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) who had set up a major investigation codenamed Operation Random.
This investigation began after over 200 customers of an Irish bank became victims of a major €2.7m phishing scam in which they provided their bank details after receiving a bogus text message that led to their bank accounts being cleared out.
The international crime gang behind the massive theft then used money mules such as Everitt who allowed their bank accounts be used by the crime organisation to withdraw and deposit money stolen from other accounts.
GNECB detectives identified 56 money mules across the country and 39 of these people have now been arrested.
Everitt was the first person to be arrested in Operation Ransom when fraud squad detectives brought him from Cloverhill Prison for questioning in October, 2019.
At that stage, he was on remand in the jail on charges of possession of cocaine totalling €16,000 and cannabis resin worth €19,000.
On November 16 last year, Everitt was handed a four-year jail sentence for this offence at Drogheda Circuit Court and given an additional four-year term for his role in an aggravated burglary in which a wheel brace was used to terrorise a family in Tullagh, Co Louth, in September, 2019.
He will be sentenced next month at Dublin Circuit Court for "possession of €10,000 believed to be the proceeds of criminal conduct" after he pleaded guilty at a court sitting in December.
A senior source told the Herald that Everitt is "not typical" of most young people who act as money mules, the vast majority of whom are teenagers without previous convictions.
"He got involved through pure criminality but in many other cases students who have never had any involvement in crime become money mules," the source said.
"The organised crime gang use social media, particularly Snapchat, to find people who will allow their bank accounts be used to launder money and they often target students who receive very little reward for letting their bank accounts be used - once they get involved they lose complete control of their accounts."
The average age of those arrested as part of Operation Ransom is 19 and among the suspects detained as part of the investigation is a 20-year-old Clondalkin man who had €44,000 in his bank account.
Investigations also established that in Limerick, a young man used the account of his 15-year-old brother to launder a large amount of money.
Of the 56 people arrested so far, at least 19 are Irish nationals.
GNECB have also identified "hotspots" for money mules in Kildare, Limerick, Mallow and Galway and anywhere where there are third level colleges across the country.