Former Dublin Airport policeman jailed again for smuggling gang money

Mark Adams (42) was on career break when he was first caught with almost €600,000

A former Dublin Airport policeman, model and reality TV contestant has been jailed in the North, where the National Crime Agency (NCA) said he laundered millions of pounds for organised crime groups.

Mark Adams (42), Malahide, north Dublin, was jailed for 20 months on Thursday after he was caught with more than €180,000 in hand luggage as he boarded a flight from Belfast International Airport to Alicante, southern Spain, in May 2018.

He has already been jailed in the Republic for five years after being caught trying to smuggle and launder €1.2 million in cash via Dublin Airport in 2015 and 2017. Indeed, when he was caught in Belfast in 2018, he was under investigation in the Republic for his earlier crimes there, including being caught with almost €600,000 cash in Dublin Airport.

The money he brought onto the plane in Belfast in 2018 was in two folders which were designed to look like they contained legally privileged documents. When stopped by Border Force he claimed he was going to a wedding, though this was quickly proven to be false. When officers from the National Crime Agency reviewed his travel arrangements they discovered he was due to catch a return flight back to Ireland just one hour and 20 minutes after landing in Spain.


Adams left his job as an airport policeman in Dublin in February 2017, after taking a two-year career break. The investigation found he had taken about 100 flights per year for five years in and out of the UK. Many of those trips involved taking a return flight shortly after arriving at his destination.

When he was caught with the money on the plane in Belfast Airport in May 2018, he was charged and released on bail. After he failed to return to the North a European arrest warrant was issue for him in January, 2020.

However, by that stage Adams was before the courts in the Republic on money-laundering charges relating to his smuggling via Dublin Airport. In September 2019, he was charged with four offences under the Criminal Justice Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act relating to his role in laundering some €1.2 million in cash that was the proceeds of crime.

At the end of October, 2020, he was jailed for five years by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court having been convicted for his role in money laundering. When he was caught with almost €600,000 at Dublin Airport in 2015 he refused to say where the money had come from.

“If I tell you, I am a dead man, even if I don’t tell you I am a dead man anyway,” he said when asked about the source of the cash in the airport.

Adams later pleaded guilty in Dublin to engaging in handling €582,045, the proceeds of criminal conduct, at Dublin Airport on September 11th, 2015. He also pleaded guilty to money laundering in relation to €227,130 at Bank of Ireland, Dublin Airport; €298,280 at PTSB, Main Street, Malahide and €78,990 at Bank of Ireland Credit Card Centre on dates between January 2012 and March 2017.

Last August, while he was still serving his sentence in the Republic, he was extradited back to the North to face the outstanding three counts of money laundering against him there. On Thursday, having previously pleaded guilty, a 20-month term of imprisonment was imposed on him at Antrim Crown Court.

After the sentencing hearing on Thursday, NCA Belfast Branch Commander David Cunningham described Adams as "a serial money launderer on both sides of the Irish Border" given the volume of flights he took.

“Each time he is likely to have taken tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros, and may have been responsible for laundering many millions of criminal money in total,” he said.

When Adams was jailed in Dublin last year the court was told he was addicted to drugs and gambling and that this had "blighted" his life. He was on a career break from his job as an airport policeman when he was caught with the €582,045 in Dublin Airport in 2015. Adams had appeared in 2010 on the RTÉ TV dating show One Night Stand and auditioned for Big Brother.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times