Almost €1.5m seized by gardaí ‘literally’ being laundered

Haul described as largest confiscation of cash used for criminal purposes in history of State

Almost €1.5 million worth of cash found in bogland was "literally" being laundered, quipped a judge at Limerick Circuit Court.

The haul, described in court as the largest seizure of cash used for criminal purposes in the history of the State, was discovered at Portcrusha, Montpellier, Co Limerick following a five-month long operation targeting organised crime in Limerick.

Judge Tom O’Donnell quipped how it was “literally a case of money laundering” after he was told that large amounts of the cash was being dried in a tumbler drier inside a container on farmland in Co Limerick.

Gardaí discovered 55-year-old John Duffy, of Shanabooley Road, Ballynanty, Limerick, inside the container sorting and drying out the cash, when they searched the premises on December 14th, 2013.


Following his arrest, Mr Duffy said he believed the money was from the sale of illegal cigarettes but insisted he was acting under duress.

Gardaí accepted the married father was being coerced by a criminal gang who were described in court as “persons of a particular vicious nature”.

In his evidence Det Garda David Boland, an expert in the area of criminal assets and their recovery, said the wine-coloured container was located in a farmyard behind a house in Montpellier, Co Limerick.

Bags of cash

Mr Duffy was discovered inside the container surrounded by large quantities of cash; some of which was in zip-lock bags, on tables and under benches.

A tumbler drier inside the container was turned on and a large quantity of cash inside was “being dried at the time,” added Det Garda Boland.

A vacuum sealer and vacuum-packed cash were also found in the container, along with bundles of cash on the floor and on a fridge in the hallway of the container.

Other quantities of cash were discovered sealed in AIB lodgement bags found in a nap sack.

A man identified in court as Mr X “was discovered by gardaí operating a mini-digger near a freshly dug area of soil near the container.

A convicted drug dealer, John Duffy, pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to possession of €1,494,430 at Portcrusha between Castleconnell and Montpelier in Co Limerick on December 14th, 2013, knowing it was the proceeds of crime.

When he was interviewed by officers the he said he was told to bury the money and insisted he was “under duress and didn’t have the option to refuse”.

Mr Duffy, who was in the Naval Service for 25 years was in the process of breaking down the cash into smaller consignments and drying it out, when he was arrested.

Det Garda Boland said it took officers a number of days to count the money and said the packing of the money involved a huge amount of work and Mr Duffy would have had to have made several trips to the bogland where it was buried.

Defence counsel Anthony Sammon said his client was acting under duress as he owed money following a previous drugs conviction.

Mr Sammon said when a person is minding contraband for a drug baron and it is seized by gardaí “while on their watch then they are usually in debt for whatever is seized”.

The court heard the money is now in the secure custody of the Central Bank.

Adjourning sentencing in the case until Friday Judge O’Donnell described the case as “bizarre and spectacular”.