By Cormac O’Keeffe and Eoin English
Gardaí believe they have dealt a significant blow to a large drug-dealing network in Cork following a series of dawn raids.
Two men were arrested, and six cars worth more than €170,000, cash, luxury handbags, drugs, phones and documents were seized during the large Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) operation targeting a convicted drug dealer with links to several businesses in West Cork.
The intelligence-led operation culminated at 4am yesterday when more than 140 gardaí executed search warrants on 22 properties.
They swooped on 21 premises in Cork, mostly in the Bandon area, and on one premise in Roscrea, in Co Tipperary, searching 11 residential premises, four business premises, six professional premises, including solicitors and accountants' offices, and a hotel, where a room was searched. By lunchtime, they had seized:
Six high-powered cars: a 191 registered Renault Kadjar; a 182 Kia Sportage; a 142 Skoda Superb; a 171 Range Rover; a 162 Hyundai Santa Fe; and a 151 Volkswagen Passat.
They froze funds, believed to be in excess of €25,000, in four accounts in financial institutions, and seized financial records, phones and computers for analysis.
Two men were arrested - one on foot of a bench warrant and the other under Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1997 for an offence alleged to have occurred on an earlier date.
The CAB investigation centres on a convicted drug dealer in his early 40s who it's believed has been laundering the proceeds of criminal conduct - the supply of controlled drugs - through businesses in West Cork, including beauty parlours and tanning shops as well as a pub in the wider Bandon area.
The target is also suspected of providing seed capital for a motor business.
Chief Supt Con Cadogan said the target was identified following almost a year of investigation by a newly trained divisional asset profiler in West Cork - highly trained gardaí who assess intelligence from a range of sources to identify the assets of people which have been derived, or which are suspected to have been derived directly or indirectly from criminal conduct.
“Intelligence was gleaned from many sources within the community,” Chief Supt Cadogan said.
“I would like to thank the people of West Cork. Many have reported various activities in relation to the supply of drugs and we take all of those reports very seriously.
He urged anyone with information about the sale, supply or distribution of illegal drugs to contact their local garda station.
Several garda units were involved in the raids, including CAB officers, local uninformed gardaí and detectives, the emergency response unit, the regional armed support unit, the garda dog unit and the divisional search team.