A 45-year-old Lithuanian man who was arrested yesterday morning with more than €1m in cash in the van he was driving was moving the money on behalf of the notorious 'The Family' gang, senior sources revealed.
The suspect is being detained at Portlaoise garda station under anti-gangland legislation, where he is being questioned about "involvement in a criminal organisation, to facilitate money laundering, relating to the suspected proceeds of drug trafficking," gardaí said in a statement.
Detectives believe the arrested man, who is based in the midlands, had been moving the huge cash haul on for one of Ireland's biggest drugs trafficking networks.
Gardaí believe the cash was to be moved out of the country.
It is the second major cash seizure against the gang in just over three months after a multi-million euro seizure last year.
The west Dublin-based drug trafficking mob, led by convicted heroin dealer Brian Grendon (42), have been the subject of numerous raids by specialist garda units in recent years, but they remain one of the biggest drug dealing organisations in the State.
'The Family' gang have been using Dublin garages to launder money for years and in June, 2017, in a major operation by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) five car dealerships were raided and another three visited by officers in searches which yielded more than €1m worth of assets, including luxury watches and high-end cars.
Yesterday morning's operation involved members of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB), intercepting a van on the M7 near Ballybrittas, Co Laois, at 6.30am. The seven figure cash sum was found in the vehicle.
Around €10,000 in cash was then discovered during follow-up searches in the midlands by detectives.
Brian Grendon, along with his older brother Philip, are classified as two of the main leaders of the mob, whose stronghold is in the Clondalkin and Ballyfermot areas.
Brian was jailed for six years in December, 2002, for the possession of €1.9m worth of heroin in a Palmerstown pub in November, 2001.
Brian's older brother Philip (45) is understood to have been released from a tough Spanish jail in 2018 after he was caught in a bizarre bust in August, 2014.
Spanish police arrested him after he threw one of two suitcases containing €3.8m worth of cocaine from a hotel window in a paranoid fit.
Speaking about the massive M7 cash seizure, Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll, who heads Organised and Serious Crime, said: "An Garda Síochána continues to pursue organised crime groups who are believed to involved in supplying illicit drugs within our communities, the motivation for which is financial gain.
"We again today have made a significant advance in our attempt to dismantle organised crime groups, by locating and seizing the suspected proceeds of their criminal activity.
"Despite our significant commitment to tackling issues associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, at this time, An Garda Síochána remains focused on protecting communities from serious and organised crime, including cyber enabled crime, drug trafficking and associated money laundering."