Crime bosses have lost more than €8m in cash, €65m worth of drugs and almost 100 luxury vehicles as a result of Garda anti-gangland operations in the last year, writes Cormac O'Keeffe.
Dozens of high-powered weaponry, including submachine guns and assault rifles, have been also seized, and eight people have been charged in connection with the Kinahan-Hutch feud murders.
In a lengthy briefing on organised crime, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said that a year ago, after the Regency Hotel attack, she had stated that it would take “time, money and resources to really tackle organised crime”.
With the anniversary of the Regency attack on Sunday, with fears of violence, the commissioner said that there were individuals “determined on retribution”, posing threats to individuals, the wider community and gardaí.
She agreed the Regency assault — involving Swat-style gunmen brandishing assault rifles — was a “spectacular” in that it was an “elaborate murder”.
She said she was not embarrassed that Garda intelligence had not predicted the attack and said “gardaí cannot be everywhere” and that criminals “do not announce beforehand” what they are going to do. The commissioner, accompanied by senior officers, said:
There would be more operations in Ireland this year involving the Guardia Civil after the unprecedented presence of Spanish police here last September.
The Garda’s overseas liaison network will expand in Europe and “further afield”.
Human trafficking was a growing area of organised crime and gardaí expected more charges this year than ever before.
Old “silos” of intelligence gathering and sharing in the organisation have been removed and replaced with a quicker, smoother system, resulting in recent successes.
Garda HQ was working with the Department of Justice to establish what, if any, impact Brexit will have on the operation of the European Arrest Warrant system.
The commissioner said she was determined to “disrupt” and “dismantle organised crime groups, including the Kinahan cartel, but said it takes “a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of persistence”. She said €23m worth of drugs were seized last year and already more than €42m this year.
Deputy commissioner John Twomey said more than 22,000 armed checkpoints and over 2,000 armed patrols had been conducted under Operation Hybrid, set up to prevent Kinahan-Hutch attacks.
He said €3.8m had been frozen in bank accounts, €2.2m in cash seized and €2.2m recovered in taxes, along with the confiscation of 93 high-powered vehicles.
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.