The Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) is investigating the assets of more than 1,300 people, including some juveniles, the head of the bureau has revealed.
Det Chief Supt Pat Clavin said while the 1996 murder of journalist Veronica Guerin had led to Cab's inception, the 2016 attack at Dublin's Regency Hotel had proven a "wake-up call" in the fight against organised crime.
"David Byrne was killed in the Regency Hotel [attack] and, in my view, it's a turning point in causing us to start digging again into organised crime. It was... a wake-up call to lots of us," he said of the attack that saw the Kinahan-Hutch feud erupt.
He added that some €2.7 million worth of assets had now been seized from the Byrne organised crime group. It is led by an older brother of David Byrne, Liam Byrne (39), and was "the Kinahan organised crime gang in Ireland".
After the Regency Hotel attack, carried out at a boxing tournament weigh-in by men dressed in mock Garda uniforms and armed with AK47s, the threshold value of an asset that could be targeted by Cab was reduced from €13,000 to €5,000. The measure was designed to ensure more lower- to mid-tier criminals were investigated by the bureau.
Another new provision at the time also gave Cab the power to seize for an initial 24-hour period any vehicle, usually luxury cars, being driven by a criminal even if they were not the registered owner.
That change was designed to frustrate the growing trend of young criminals driving vehicles valued at about €150,000. They were claiming to gardaí when stopped for searching that the car was on a sale or return loan by a garage. That meant it could not be defined on the spot as a suspected criminal asset that could be seized pending further investigation. Under the new provisions, however, such vehicles can be seized for 24 hours, extended to 21 days to allow the origins of the vehicle to be investigated with a view to permanent seizure.
Finglas to Rathcoole
Det Chief Supt Clavin said this had helped to increase the number of targets taken on by Cab. Generating publicity around cases and establishing social media accounts for the bureau had also increased the number of tips about criminal assets coming for the public, which can be made anonymously.
Mr Clavin added that of the 1,321 people now being targeted by Cab, just under half were located in Dublin. There were more targets living in the Garda’s Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) west division – “stretching from Finglas to Rathcoole” – than any other division in the country.
DMR North was next followed by DMR South and then the Limerick division. However, a "growing trend" was an increase in targets living in the counties surrounding Dublin, such as Meath and Kildare.
“The lowest asset value we have gone for was €5,010 which we went for this year and the highest was Bitcoin with a notional value of over €50 million,” Mr Clavin said. He was addressing the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin on Friday.
He added that while many people had suggested “mini Cabs” be established locally nationwide to target criminals in those communities, he was not in favour of the proposal.