A major Garda investigation into an eastern European drugs network operating in the Republic has resulted in the second day of searches in two months by the Criminal Assets Bureau, with almost 20 vehicles seized to date.
The latest phase of the inquiry is focused on the assets of two groups working together in the drugs trade and money laundering and resulted in searches of a car dealership in Co Tipperary on Thursday.
A team of 24 officers from the bureau arrived at the dealership and seized 11 vehicles, including five Audi Q7s, two Range Rovers, two BMW X5s, an Audi A4 and a VW Passat. Some €11,000 in cash was also found and confiscated.
The Cab said the operation was “conducted as part of an ongoing money laundering and proceeds of crime investigation targeting assets linked to a significant east European organised crime group” operating in the Republic.
Many of the criminals involved have been living in Ireland for about a decade and come from Lithuania. They are involved in the drugs trade, including the cultivation of cannabis crops, and gardaí believe they have tried to use the motor trade to launder the proceeds of their crimes and as a front of having access to luxury vehicles for personal use.
However, while some of the cars seized to date have been confiscated as they were suspected to represent the proceeds of crimes, four of the vehicles that were seized on Thursday were taken on suspicion of VRT or customs breaches.
The group targeted in the Cab searches in Dublin last month is suspected of working with the targets of Thursday's raids in Co Tipperary. During the Dublin searches seven vehicles, valued at €270,000, were taken by the Cab and in a follow-up search a Jaguar I Pace valued at €80,000 was also seized.