32,000 arrests in gangland crime operation

MORE than 32,000 people have been arrested and in excess of 1,500 firearms seized under a national Garda operation targeting gangland crime.

Almost €100 million has been spent on Operation Anvil so far, much of it on Garda overtime.

The gang-busting initiative, established by former Garda commissioner Noel Conroy, began in May 2005 in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and was rolled out to the rest of the country during 2006.

Figures released by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern show, in the DMR between May 2005 and June 1 this year, there have been:

13,892 arrests.

56,490 searches.

19,854 seizures.

94,332 checkpoints.

€27.8m in stolen property recovered.

Of the arrests, Mr Ahern said 122 related to murder and 1,338 to serious assaults. The bulk related to theft (7,529), burglary (3,343) and robbery (1,560).

Drugs accounted for nearly 51,000 of the searches, with the rest connected to theft (3,553) and firearms (2,118).

Of the seizures, vehicles accounted for 18,948, with firearms making up 906 seizures. Outside the DMR, up to May 4, 2008, there had been 734 firearms seized and 18,295 arrests made.

“Operation Anvil outside the DMR differs from the DMR, in that operations have a short-time focus and are designed to address, in a flexible fashion, the particular needs of specific areas,” Mr Ahern said. He told the Dáil last week the estimated cost of Operation Anvil, from June 2005 to t May 2008, was e98.9m.

Mr Ahern said Garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy had “reaffirmed his commitment” to the operation’s objectives.

Both the commissioner and the previous Justice Minister Brian Lenihan, said the operation would not be affected by overtime budget pressures.

Mr Murphy said last April funding for Anvil, which stood at e20m this year, was “ring-fenced”.

He was responding to warnings from the force’s chief administrative officer, John Leamy, who said the organisation was in danger of spending its entire overtime budget by the end of August.

In a separate operation, Garda sources said yesterday they expected to carry out “further significant arrests” in a crackdown on drug-dealing networks in Dublin. Last Friday, it emerged 70 people had been arrested and charged as part of Operation Cellar, an undercover operation involving 150 gardaí and led by the Garda National Drugs Unit.

Those arrested were mainly involved in the sale of heroin and cocaine at street level in the north and south inner city.


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