CAB seize five luxury cars from major drug gang

The Criminal Assets Bureau has seized five high-end cars as part of an ongoing operation targeting one of the country's biggest drug trafficking gangs.

The agency made the haul after suspecting that the gang was attempting to move the vehicles beyond their reach by transporting them out of the country.

CAB's strategy is to take escalating action against the gang, which is known as 'The Family' and run by two brothers, with an ultimate aim of “closing them down”.

The bureau has hit the network five or six times since July 2017, including the seizure of 10 luxury cars last June and the recent seizure of cash in Wexford.

The gang, based in Ballyfermot, west Dublin, has been one of the biggest importers of drugs for well over a decade and is known as a dominant player in the trafficking of heroin.

It has long been a top target of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and before that of the Garda National Drugs Unit.

The brothers have been linked to the Kinahan cartel but officers believe the gang is trafficking in such large quantities that it is largely independent.

At around midnight on Wednesday, CAB officers, backed up by Customs officials and Garda units, intercepted a car transporter at Dublin Port, as it headed for a ferry to Britain, at around midnight on Wednesday.

“It is believed they were trying to put them beyond reach and bring them back to the UK,” said one source.

Based on this intelligence a surveillance operation was put in place. CAB seized an Audi TT, a Mercedes coupe, an Audi A4 estate, a Mini Cooper and a VW Golf, with registrations between 2013 and 2015.

The cars, all with British registrations, are estimated to be worth in the region of €200,000.

The car business controlled by the gang has been targeted on a number of occasions, up to six times in all since June 2017.

Last June, CAB seized eight Range Rovers and two BMW X5s at the dealership in west Dublin.

Those vehicles were estimated to be worth in the region of €700,000. The assets were confiscated on a permanent basis.

In addition to running a major drug distribution operation, the gang also operates a sophisticated money laundering scam, using the motor trade.

"The operation in Dublin Port is part of a graduated series of actions aimed at ultimately closing down this organised crime group," said a source.

The seizure comes as the CAB held meetings with the British National Crime Agency and the PSNI about targeting the use of the second hand motor trade by organised crime groups.

Sources said this involves cooperation both between Ireland and Britain and between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The meetings were held on Wednesday and Thursday in Newcastle, Co Down, attended by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and PSNI deputy chief constable Stephen Martin.

The use of the car trade features heavily in CAB's cases against the Byrne Organised Crime Group, which the bureau says controls the activities of the Kinahan cartel in Ireland and Britain.

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