Gardaí say 25 key crime gangs active
Gardaí have identified 25 key organised crime gangs in the State. They believe five have significant links with international cartels throughout Europe and with the Russian Mafia operating in Ireland and Spain.
Gangs are most active in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Galway and Sligo but operate in every county.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said while the extortion of crime gangs by dissident republicans had increased, some Irish terrorist factions were working in co-operation with drugs gangs.
“A relationship of friction of facilitation appears to exist between organised crime gangs . . . and some dissident elements,” he told the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.
“Associations between Irish and Russian organised crime groups have also been observed and they work together on drug and cigarette ventures. The presence of Russians [gangs] operating in Spain is also influencing the activities of Irish criminals here.”
The Netherlands, Spain and the UK remained the main countries where Irish criminals were linking up with criminal gangs. This was mainly because the drug supply routes have traditionally been strongest from those nations. Revenue from drugs was still the main income stream for organised crime, despite fluctuating demand.
“It drives pretty much all of the serious crime, that’s no different to our neighbours in the UK, eastern Europe and beyond,” Mr Callinan siad.
While the demand for some drugs had faltered since the height of the boom, the value of drugs seized in the first nine months of this year was more than €90 million, compared with €89.5 million last year.
Gardaí had found about 400 cannabis grow houses. However, the cocaine and heroin markets “haven’t gone away”. Mr Callinan said the cannabis grow houses could be very lucrative, with crops that could be worth millions grown in eight weeks. “There is a conveyor belt of money available to organised crime groups.”
While he was satisfied with the level of drug seizures by the Garda National Drugs Unit and gardaí, it was impossible to tell what percentage of drugs being traded was not being seized.
On the Liffey boardwalk in Dublin, Operation Stilt had been ongoing for two years to target drug-dealing and antisocial behaviour. About 250,000 prescription tablets, mainly bought illegally on the internet, had been seized, 14,500 drugs offences had been detected, 10,000 people had been searched and 2,500 cases had been or were due before the courts.