GARDAÍ HAVE raided over 50 residential and business premises as part of a major investigation into a significant drugs, money-laundering and armed robbery gang with property and business interests across Dublin.
One of the gang leaders has represented Ireland at soccer. He developed a heroin addiction when he stopped playing and has convictions for robbery offences.
The gang leader, who is in his mid-30s, and his close associate from Clontarf on Dublin’s north side, were the two main targets of the Garda’s city-wide search operation yesterday.
Speaking at the Garda College, Templemore, Co Tipperary, the Garda Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, said the co-ordinated raids – codenamed Operation Gem – involved about 100 gardaí.
The operation, which started at 5am, was typical of the aggressive policing he was pursuing against organised crime, he said.
“We’re out there looking for drugs; looking for cash and the proceeds of crime; targeting property and focusing in by means of intelligence-led operations. We’re also looking for guns and ammunition; looking for the tools of the trade of organised criminality.”
Gardaí, some of them armed, from stations across Dublin city and almost every specialist unit in the force, raided private dwellings and lawyers’ and accountants’ offices.
Premises were raided all over the capital including in Walkinstown, Tallaght, Clontarf, Raheny, Drimnagh, Dún Laoghaire and the city centre.
A large amount of computers, disks and paperwork was seized in private dwellings and lawyers’ and accountants’ offices.
These have been taken by the Criminal Assets Bureau in an effort to unravel the suspected laundering of robbery and drugs money in property deals and investments in financial products in both Ireland and abroad.
The men have extensive business interests and some business addresses linked to those firms were among the locations searched yesterday.
Gardaí believe the two gang leaders have also been engaged in large-scale money laundering and gun crime.
Garda sources said while the two men at the head of the gang have become major gangland players, they have managed to avoid media attention to date.
A total of €70,000 cash was seized, along with small quantities of cocaine and cannabis. One man in his mid-20s was arrested in relation to one of the drugs finds.
A suspected firearm was also seized as were quantities of stolen property, mainly electrical goods.
The operation was led by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and involved the Criminal Assets Bureau, Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, Garda National Drugs Unit and Emergency Response Unit as well as uniformed gardaí.