CAB seizes Viagra in raids targeting leading former IRA man

Eight premises in Monaghan and Cavan searched as investigation continues

During the raids officers seized sterling and euro notes worth a total of around €10,000, Viagra and evidence of illicit tobacco and alcohol.

During the raids officers seized sterling and euro notes worth a total of around €10,000, Viagra and evidence of illicit tobacco and alcohol.

 

A well-known former member of the Provisional IRA has been targeted in a series of raids by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

The suspect has been one of the most influential players in the cross-border illegal cigarette market for two decades.

A quantity of erectile dysfunction drug Viagra was seized as well as tobacco, with the suspect’s criminal gang believed to deal in both on the black market. Some €10,000 in cash in euro and sterling denominations was also seized as was a quantity of alcohol.

The searches in Monaghan and Cavan were undertaken as part of an inquiry into a property portfolio in Ireland and the UK which gardaí believe was bought with the proceeds of crime.

Much of the criminal activity that Cab believes generated the funds to buy the assets revolves around smuggling cigarettes and other contraband into the Republic and across the border.

Gardaí believe the former IRA member has continued for private gain the criminal activities that the terrorist group used to fund their terror campaigns for decades.

While property-related documentation was the main focus of Cab’s raids, officers from the bureau also found evidence of cross border smuggling during the operation.

Cab’s officers were backed-up by members of the armed Emergency Response Unit during the searches at eight properties including six residential addresses and the offices of professionals suspected of being engaged for property transactions.

Documents and electronic devices, containing information about property deals, were seized by Cab. These will now be examined while the bureau’s officers try to find evidence of money laundering and properties bought with the proceeds of crime.

The seizures of the tobacco, Viagra and alcohol are regarded as evidence of a significant cross-border smuggling operation.

Cigarettes, for example, are smuggled into the State illegally without being declared for the purposes of paying taxes and duties. They can be purchased in bulk abroad for less than €1 per pack of 20 cigarettes. With a retail price of more than €10 in Irish stores, the smuggled cigarettes are sold at about half that sum on the black market - achieving significant profits.

“This operation centres on an organised crime gang operating in the border region with Northern Ireland,” a Garda statement said of the Cab operation. “They are heavily involved in the importation and distribution of illegal cigarettes and counterfeit goods. No arrests have been made and investigations are continuing.”

The main target of the operation is from the North and is from a well known IRA family, several of whom were shot dead during the Troubles by the British security services.

Now a middle aged man he served a prison sentence related to cigarette smuggling after the Troubles ended. He also served a lengthy jail term for his role in an IRA bombing attack on loyalist targets.

Regarded as a dissident Republican who did not commit to the peace process, gardaí believe he was a prominent member of the Real IRA.

While many of his peers in the Provisional IRA were killed during the Troubles, two men particularly close to him died at the hands of the RUC and SAS during alleged shoot to kill incidents during the 1980s and into the 1990s.

During his many years of involvement in cross-border smuggling, the suspect has always located himself and his illegal fuel and cigarettes very close to the border. That has frustrated the inquiries into the activities he has been engaged in as he lives just over the border in the North but runs his smuggling business from yards that go into the Republic.

As well as being heavily involved in smuggling duty free and counterfeit cigarettes from Eastern Europe and Asia and trading in Viagra and alcohol, he has also been heavily involved in the illicit fuel sector. This involves laundering the marker out of agricultural diesel for sale to unsuspecting motorists.

The suspect was not arrested during the searches and spends most of his time in south Armagh.

However, Garda sources said the Criminal Assets Bureau inquiry aimed to confiscate his wealth. Assets recovery officers in the UK are working closely with Cab to find what the man owns in both Ireland and Britain, with a very lengthy investigation anticipated.