Gardaí have moved in on an crime gang based in the Republic suspected of involvement in organised illegal immigration into the Republic from the UK. Gardaí seized cash, documents and mobile phones during searches on Thursday.
The Irish Times understands the criminals, who were targetted in searches earlier this year and are suspected of smuggling undocumented people into the Republic, are from Eastern Europe and have a network across continental Europe.
Gardaí believe their operations are also established in the Republic, which has become one of their destinations and transit countries for trafficking people, some of whom are then exploited once they are smuggled into their destination country.
The operation in Dublin on Thursday by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) forms part of a major international inquiry, also involving British police, into the group behind the illegal immigration network.
Gardaí said the search targeted “an organised crime group suspected of being involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants”. Some €16,000 in cash was seized as well as documents and five mobile phones.
The financial documents and phones seized were set to undergo analysis to determine if they contain evidence about the gang’s activities, money laundering or assets purchases.
The Garda and British police suspect the gang has been involved in several activities aimed at supporting illegal immigration via entry into Ireland from Britain, taking advantage of the common travel area between the two countries.
The gang is suspect of money laundering as well as the large scale production and distribution of false documents that facilitate illegal entry into the Republic from the UK.
The operation carried out by the Garda on Thursday follows a previous day of searches against the same group at the end of April when six premises in Ireland – in Dublin and Wicklow – and two in the UK were searched. During that phase of the operation detectives from GNIB froze a bank account containing €33,000 and seized devices and documents.
The investigation has already resulted in the arrest and charging of two suspects relating to immigration and the distribution of fake travel documents.