Gardai disrupt major criminal's activities


GARDAI investigating the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin have succeeded in disrupting the operation of the criminal believed to have ordered her murder.

A team of 200 detectives were involved in the arrest and questioning of 20 people believed to be involved in the collecting and transfer of up to £250,000 per week from proceeds of the criminal's drugs operation.

Nineteen of the people being questioned, who range from men in their early twenties to women in their fifties, were released from custody last night.

Some of those questioned are now expected to face charges arising from further investigations by the joint Garda Customs Revenue body, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

All 20 are from one extended family, connected to a man living in a private estate in the Tallaght area, who is believed to be the criminal's main courier.

The operation uncovered by gardai involved the collection of huge sums of money, ranging in weekly amounts from £70,000 to £250,000.

The sums involved tend to support previous claims that the criminal controlled a drugs and smuggled tobacco network valued at over £10 million annually.

Gardai have discovered that the drugs money was supplied by pushers to a house in Tallaght, counted and then transferred out of the country by courier to the criminal, who is now living mainly in Holland, although he visited Dublin two weeks ago.

Until this week, the huge sums of cash were being taken by courier, usually by ferry to England and from there to the criminal at a rendezvous point in Calais.

Gardai seized at least £70,000 during a series of raids on Monday when most of the arrests were made. This money will be the subject of charges once investigations by the CAB are complete.

The 20 people arrested were held at garda stations across west and north Dublin. All were arrested under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, which allows their detention for 48 hours.

The investigation into Ms Guerin's death is possibly the murder investigation ever mounted by the gardai. It is set to continue into the foreseeable future as gardai pursue the other aspects of the criminal's operations.

None of those arrested in the latest raids are now suspected of being involved in the journalist's murder.