Gardaí identify 25 crime gangs

Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 00:00

Gardaí have identified 25 key organised crime gangs in the State and believe five have significant links with international cartels throughout Europe and into Northern Ireland.

At home the gangs are most active in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Galway and Sligo but have operations in every county in the State.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan told the joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality while crime was becoming more internationalised and Irish gangs were now part of that process, Holland, Spain and the UK remained the many nations in which Irish criminals were linking with foreign criminals to expand their networks.

This was mainly because the drug supply routes into Ireland have traditionally been strongest from those nations, with revenue from drugs still the main income stream for organised crime.

“It drives pretty much all of the serious crime, that’s no different to our neighbours in the UK, Eastern Europe and beyond,” he said.

While the demand for some drug types had fluctuated since the recession started, the total value of drugs seized in the first nine months of this year was in excess of €90 million, compared with seizures of €89.5 million in all of last year.

Gardai had found around 400 cannabis grow houses. However, the cocaine and heroin markets “haven’t gone away”, with the illegal drugs trade so lucrative on the naive would believe it will ever disappear.

Commissioner Callinan said the cannabis grow house sector could very lucrative with crops that can be worth millions grown in eight weeks and ready to reproduce immediately.

While he was satisfied with the level of drug seizures by the Garda National Drugs Unit and gardaí around the State, it was impossible to tell what percentage of drugs being imported and sold was not being seized.

On the Liffey boardwalk in Dublin, Operation Still had been ongoing for two years to target drug dealing and anti social behaviour. Around 250,000 prescription tablets had been seized, there had been 14,500 drugs offences detected, 10,000 people had been searched and 2,500 cases had been before or were due before the courts.