Garda and Defence Forces join in ‘super raid’ on Limerick drugs gang

Joint operation against Collopy gang yields evidence of criminal proceeds in UAE

The Garda operation involved 170 personnel from local Garda divisions backed by the Armed Support Unit, Emergency Response Unit, Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. Photograph: Garda Facebook

The Garda operation involved 170 personnel from local Garda divisions backed by the Armed Support Unit, Emergency Response Unit, Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. Photograph: Garda Facebook

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A joint Garda and Defence Forces operation, involving more than 200 personnel, against a Limerick drugs gang has yielded evidence of the proceeds of crime invested in Ireland and abroad, including the United Arab Emirates.

Two cocaine presses were also seized, which gardaí said formed the main equipment being used by a group within the gang specialising in mixing pure cocaine with bulking agents before repackaging it for resale to other dealers.

A total of 67 searches were carried out during the so-called “super raid” from 6am on Wednesday in counties Limerick, Clare and Tipperary as gardaí targeted the Collopy drugs gang, which was previously involved in a feud with the McCarthy-Dundon gang.

Some 14 arrests were made during the operation and drugs, cash and documents related to assets were also discovered.

While two leading members of the Collopy gang are due for release from lengthy prison sentences in coming months, Garda sources also say the group’s ranks have been bolstered by a younger generation of criminals that has emerged since the end of the feud almost a decade ago.

Sources said the gang remained very active in Limerick and the wider Munster area, mostly in supplying drugs and laundering the proceeds of crime.

The Garda operation involved 170 personnel from local Garda divisions backed by the Armed Support Unit, Emergency Response Unit, Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, among others.

Army helicopter

Defence Forces personnel were also drafted in to bolster the search, at private homes, businesses and lands, with the Army helicopter observing from above and the Army’s bomb disposal team and search engineers also used.

Gardaí seized approximately €220,000 in cash including some sterling and UAE dirham as well as Irish punts. A vehicle valued at €50,000 and jewellery and watches with a combined value of €100,000 were confiscated by CAB, along with designer clothing.

The deeds to a property in Dubai were also confiscated along with financial documents relating to bank accounts and property deals, with about €119,000 in two bank accounts frozen. As well as the cocaine presses, €23,500 worth of cannabis, heroin and crack cocaine was seized.

Those arrested, 12 men and one woman, are aged between their 20s and 60s. Three suspects were detained for suspected money laundering while one man was detained in relation to the seizure of €2,000 worth of crack cocaine and heroin. Six suspects were arrested for drug possession while three people were detained on outstanding warrants.