Garda raids in Kerry and Laois net €4m in cash

Gardaí also confiscate Audi car and two BMWs during moves against crime network

 Approximately €4m was found during searches at two properties: one in a north Kerry village and another in Mountmellick, Co Laois. File photograph: Getty

Approximately €4m was found during searches at two properties: one in a north Kerry village and another in Mountmellick, Co Laois. File photograph: Getty

 

About €3 million was found in a house in a rural Co Kerry village, some of it hidden under a bed, when the property was raided by gardaí investigating a Dublin-based drugs gang that has become a large-scale international criminal network.

Approximately €4 million was found during searches at two properties: one in a village in north Kerry and another in Co Laois, with an Audi car and two BMWs also confiscated by gardaí.

The seizure, which was made during co-ordinated searches on Wednesday, is the biggest quantity of cash taken from an organised crime gang to date during a single Garda operation. The raids were carried out by members of the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GDOCB).

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, the senior officer who leads the Garda’s Organised and Serious Crime section, said the group targeted was significant internationally as well as domestically.

“The seizure by GDOCB of cash, potentially to the extent of €4 million, bringing to €8 million the total amount of cash seized by GNDOCB so far this year, is another important achievement, reflecting our determination to dismantle particular organised crime groups,” he said.

Garda officers believe a property in the village of Lisselton, between Listowel and Ballybunnion, was chosen to hide most of the money as it was so remote. The property in Mountmellick, Co Laois, where the remainder of the cash was found is linked to one of the suspected gang members who lives in the area.

However, the gang’s traditional base has been in the Ballyfermot and Clondalkin areas of west Dublin. Though the group has been selling narcotics to small drugs gangs nationwide, with a significant focus on the lucrative heroin trade.

Gun violence

The gang is headed by two brothers in their 40s who have served prison sentences in Ireland and Spain for drug dealing. Some of the gang’s members have previously been involved in extreme gun violence linked to the drugs trade with handguns and machine guns seized from them.

The outfit has used a west Dublin car garage to launder proceeds from its narcotic trade, specialising in the sale of luxury vehicles such as Mercedes and BMW.

The gang has been under investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau in recent years, with raids on members of the group in each of the last four years. In one such raid 10 luxury vehicles, valued at more than €700,000, were seized. On another occasion the gang was targeted in a Garda raid during which more than 20 vehicles, expensive jewellery and cash was seized while five luxury vehicles were taken during another raid.

The gang’s wealth has grown exponentially. And their position in the Irish underworld has been strengthened over the past 4½ years as the Garda significantly focused on the Irish section of the Kinahan drugs cartel after the Kinahan-Hutch feud erupted in early 2016.