The Criminal Assets Bureau has seized a range of high-value assets from a cross border group believed to be linked to the Essex smuggling deaths of 39 people. CAB officers, assisted by the heavily armed Emergency Response Unit, swooped on 10 properties in Co Monaghan early today.
This followed a separate operation targeting the same group at Dublin Port last Tuesday, in which two articulated trucks were seized, with a combined value close to €200,000. Two members of this group are wanted by Essex police for questioning in relation to the truck within which the bodies of 39 Vietnamese migrants were found two weeks ago.
In the operation, CAB seized four vehicles - including a 192 BMW X5 worth around €110,000 – under Proceeds of Crime legislation and more than €2,500 in cash. Of the seven family homes searched, six of the owners were present at the time, including the two members wanted for questioning by Essex police.
CAB said their operation is separate to the criminal investigation being conducted by Essex police and followed an investigation they began last August. It an official statement, Garda HQ said:
For over a year the Criminal Assets Bureau has, in accordance with its statutory remit, been investigating a group suspected of being involved in various international smuggling activities. That investigation has intensified over the past two weeks.
It said a number of restraining orders in respect of accounts in financial institutions have been made by a Judge of the District Court pursuant to Section 17(2) of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act, 2010.
As part of the operation, the bureau detained a Northern Ireland-registered tractor unit and curtain sider trailer and a Bulgarian-registered tractor unit and a curtain sider trailer at Dublin Port on Tuesday last. The statement said the operation was continuing and that the bureau was taking “proportionate action to prevent the concealment and disposal of assets”.
The Northern truck has a 191 reg and is described as a “top of the range” Scania S650 with an estimated value of around €150,000. The Bulgarian-registered truck has been roughly valued at around €50,000. In Thursday's searches, 10 properties, at four different locations across Monaghan, were targeted.
The first site is an enclave of six properties, four homes and two yards. A 192-reg X5 BMW M Sport was seized from the home of one of the members sought for questioning in England, estimated to be worth around €110,000.
At a separate location, the home of the other man sought by Essex police was searched and a 16 reg BMW, worth around €40,000, was seized. Three other searches, at two separate locations, were also conducted.
A Mitsubishi jeep was confiscated in the searches, which may be linked to a man outside the family who is also a person of interest for Essex police. Documents and electronic devices and cash (€1,400 euros, $900 dollars and Sterling £600) were taken away.
CAB was assisted by the Stolen Motor Vehicle Investigation Unit in the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Customs Dog Unit and the Garda National Immigration Bureau. No arrests were made.v