Extend CAB remit ‘to target small-time drug barons’

THE remit of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) should be extended to haul in the assets of “mini-drug lords” in provincial towns, Fine Gael demanded yesterday.

Justice spokesman Jim O’Keeffe said that, after 10 years of success tackling bigger drug barons, CAB should have its resources increased to investigate smaller criminals.

The West Cork TD said: “The CAB was one of the outstanding successes initiated by the last government of which Fine Gael was a part and it has a proven track record over the past 10 years.

“The time is now right to review its operations with a view to extending its remit and I want to ensure that there is adequate resources in place to allow it to do that.”

Mr O’Keefe said that there was increasing concern that the drug industry was not just confined to the major criminal gangs and small time players were a bigger threat to people on the ground.

He said: “In extending its operations it has to be allowed target the mini-drug lords in provincial towns around the country.

“These mini-dealers are the ones that week in and week out wreak havoc and devastation in communities right around Ireland.”

The CAB was set up in the October 1996 to directly target the organised criminal gangs that had amassed large amounts of wealth from criminal enterprises.

Since then it has collected more than €89 million in taxes from criminals and got seizure orders on more than €80m of cash and property.

It held the presidency of the International assets’ recovery agency network throughout 2005.

CAB cases - The highlights of 2005 for the Criminal Assets Bureau:

* CAB sold the house belonging to “The General” Martin Cahill at Cowper Downs in Rathmines, as well as recovering a quantity of valuables buried in the back garden.

* Another house belonging to a prominent Limerick criminal was also sold on along were three others and seven cars seized separately.

* Criminal proceedings were brought against former EBS financial manager Shane Sutton of Howth Road in Clontarf, who was accused of 48 counts of laundering more than €1 million for a high-profile criminal figure.

* The bureau launched a series of raids to investigate money laundering by the IRA and in the process arrested Phil Flynn for being in possession of a pen gun. He resigned chairman of Bank of Scotland and pleaded guilty in Dublin district court to a firearms offence. He was ordered to pay €5,000 to charity.

* Five additional gardaí were recruited to track down the proceeds of the Northern Bank robbery.

* Overall, CAB collected more than €16m in taxes and interest accrued by the country’s criminals.

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