CAB swoop on Killarney gang

CAB and Garda officers overlooking some of the cars which were seized in the Killarney area on Tuesday morning
CAB and Garda officers overlooking some of the cars which were seized in the Killarney area on Tuesday morning

Simon Brouder

In one of the largest operations of its kind ever seen in the county the Criminal Assets Bureau and Gardaí launched a major crackdown on a Killarney based organised crime gang in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The joint operation - codenamed 'Operation Tarmac' - began at 6am on Tuesday when a force of over 130 CAB officers and local gardaí - backed by the regional Armed Response Unit - began a series of co-ordinated pre-dawn raids across Killarney.

In all, 11 houses were raided - several of them in the Ballyspillane Estate - as part of the operation which, in Kerry terms, was unprecedented in its scale.

Following extensive searches of the properties CAB officers seized nine luxury cars and jeeps; over €100,000 in Euro and Sterling cash and a large amount of jewellery including Rolex and Cartier Watches.

The seized cars included BMW X5 jeeps, which can sell for between €75,000 and €90,000 second-hand; luxury Mercedes models; Audis and at least one high end Volkswagon.

Gardaí said the cars seized had an estimated combined value of close to €500,000.

A large amount of documentation, which gardaí believe relates to the proceeds of crime, was also seized during the course of the searches.

Tuesday morning's operation followed a major joint investigation by CAB and the Kerry Garda Division which dates back over a year and remains ongoing.

It is understood that a number of bank accounts belonging to the targets of the operation have also been frozen as a result of Tuesday's CAB action.

Further investigations continued throughout the Killarney area on Tuesday afternoon.

No arrests were made as part of the operation.

The cash, cars and jewellery seized by CAB officers on Tuesday will now be removed to Dublin for valuation.

CAB forensic accountants will also carry out an in-depth investigation into all the financial documents that were seized.

The ongoing investigation is also expected to involve officials from the Department of Social Protection.

Information from the seized documents will be used to assess the scale of the gang's outstanding assets and seize them.

As such, further raids and searches have not been ruled out and these may not be confined to the Killarney area.

'Operation Tarmac' remains an open and ongoing investigating and it is expected to continue for several months.

Killarney Chief Superintendent Flor Murphy said the gang involved could best be described as group of rogue tradespeople who operate across the country targeting vulnerable, often elderly, people in isolated areas.

The organised gang is centred around an extended Irish Traveller family which is based in Killarney. Several of the family members are well known to gardaí

Typically the gang's members target vulnerable people and get them to commit to home improvement work - such as laying tarmac on their driveways or clearing gutters - which is either not completed or done in a slipshod fashion.

The victims are then threatened and forced to hand over large sums of money, often tens of thousands of Euro.

The gang is believed to have targeted vulnerable homeowners all over the country in this manner, generating vast sums of money in the process. A legal representative of some of those targeted in the raids indicated that some of the seizures may be challenged.