A massive republican criminal enterprise — generating multi-million euro profits annually — has been hit in one of the biggest ever cross-border police operations.
Two generations of a large family, based on both sides of the border, were the target of the mammoth oil laundering investigation.
Some 200 law enforcement personnel were involved in the pre-dawn swoop in the Republic, targeting 19 premises across 10 counties. An additional 100 officers were involved in operations in the North.
The extended family, led by a Provisional IRA figure, has earned a massive fortune, which it has laundered abroad using old contacts from the days of the PIRA.
“This is a huge criminal enterprise with profits estimated to be tens of millions of euro,” said a senior Garda source. “A huge amount of personal wealth has been earned by this family, but it is also shared among old comrades. The Provos may have stopped the war, but they haven’t gone away.”
The operation, code-named Loft, was led by the Criminal Assets Bureau, which has previously targeted the family. The CAB were assisted yesterday by the Special Detective Unit, which targets terrorist gangs, the Emergency Response Unit, local gardaí, and the Air Support Unit. Customs officers were involved with the military also assisting.
The operation began at 5am, with searches of seven homes, 10 businesses, and two warehouses in counties Louth, Monaghan, Dublin, Kildare, Waterford, Offaly, Roscommon, Westmeath, Tipperary, and Meath.
As part of the operation, a massive laundry facility was uncovered in Dromore, Drumakill, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan. Gardaí and customs suspect it was capable of laundering 10 million litres of diesel a year.
This would give the gang an operating yearly profit of around €5m from that plant alone, depriving the State of €5.5m in lost revenue.
An estimated 40,000l of suspected laundered fuel and around 150 bags of bleaching agent was found. Some 16 tanks each containing 1,000l of sludge or waste product was also discovered.
CAB froze over 25 bank accounts and confiscated a large amount of cash.
Forensic accountants in CAB will analyse the bank accounts, computers and hard drives seized to try and unravel the complex financial trials and identify assets.
Garda sources said the gang used legitimate firms and legitimate professionals to launder the cash.
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