Criminals implicated in Garda leaks inquiry expected to be arrested
Three officers released without charge could face seven-year prison sentences if convicted
The gang is believed to have paid one Garda member €20,000 for information. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Image
A number of senior criminals are expected to be arrested as part of the investigation into alleged leaks of sensitive information by three Garda members to a gang in the Munster area.
A Garda superintendent, sergeant and a detective garda were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of providing information to a major drug-dealing gang operating in the mid-west and west.
The three officers, who have since been released without charge, could face prison sentences of up to seven years if convicted.
The gang is believed to have paid one Garda member €20,000 for information on the progress of investigations into their drug dealing and multimillion euro wealth. It is also believed to have made payments to other members of the force.
Members of the gang are expected to be detained as part of the inquiry but Garda sources said their co-operation was expected to be “minimal or nil” in the event of their arrests.
However, the same sources said investigators have analysed a number of telephone calls and texts that the criminals had made or received and believe they show inappropriate relationships with Garda members. The Director of Public Prosecutions will ultimately decide whether charges should be pursued, the sources said.
The detective was already in his fifth month of suspension from his job when arrested. The inspector and superintendent were suspended following their release from Garda custody.
Sources stressed that while the three have been suspended from duty, no wrongdoing had been proven and a lengthy investigation was anticipated.
The Garda inquiry has been ongoing for almost a year, during which time mobile phone communications between suspects in the case have been intercepted and a number of searches carried out.
That evidence was put to the three Garda members during their detention on Thursday. Their responses to questions was now set to be analysed and would inform the next stage of the investigation, sources said.
The most senior of the three people arrested this week was only the second superintendent arrested since the inception of the Garda almost a century ago.
The inquiry was examining the alleged leaking of information to a criminal gang in Munster that was being investigated by the Criminal Assets Bureau, among other allegations.
The detective Garda arrested on Thursday had previously been detained as part of the same inquiry. When he was previously arrested a civilian was also held, meaning three Garda members and one other person have been detained to date.
Sources did not rule out other Garda members being detained.