25/05/2010

Irish Arrests Follow International Operation

A number of Irish nationals have been detained as part of an international operation targeting organised crime.

An arrest was also made in Dublin during simultaneous searches and arrests carried out in Spain by the Spanish National Police and by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in the United Kingdom.

The operation in Ireland involved 17 premises in the wider Dublin area and in County Meath being searched. The arrested man is in his mid 20s and was arrested in the north inner city. He is currently being detained at Store Street station under the Criminal Justice Drug Trafficking Act.

A Gardaí spokesman said this morning the operation entailed working closely with law enforcement colleagues in Spain, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

The spokesman said: "Gardaí have been targeting the activities of an Irish organised crime gang for a considerable period of time. The group’s activities are believed to include the supply and distribution of controlled drugs and firearms as well as extensive money laundering."

This morning's searches of both business and residential premises were conducted by detectives from units within National Support Services together with other specialist units and local Gardaí.

Garda members from Gardaí National Drug Unit were based in Spain and United Kingdom for the duration of the operation, working closely with law enforcement officers from Spain and the UK together with a representative from Europol.

Commenting on the investigation, the Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said: “This is an extensive and focused investigation into organised criminal activity targeting drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms crime. Over a significant period of time An Garda Síochána has engaged in the highest levels of cooperation and partnership with law enforcement colleagues in a number of key countries including the Spanish National Police, SOCA in the United Kingdom and the Belgians culminating in today's operation."

Noting that a number of the individuals arrested elsewhere today were Irish nationals, the Commissioner said: "The message from today’s operation is clear: there is no hiding place for those who seek to bring misery and hurt to communities here in Ireland and abroad. If people choose to trade drugs and death across borders, police will work together across those same borders to address that challenge and disrupt criminal activity."

SOCA's Trevor Pearce said the scale of the joint operation by law enforcement agencies from so many countries was an indication of how prolific the particular network is believed to be.

"Today's arrests will have dealt a major blow to an organised criminal business suspected of supplying drugs and guns to gangs in cities across the UK and Europe. It highlights SOCA's role in coordinating complex investigations into organised crime, which always has an international dimension," he said.

Mr Pearce added: "We also believe this network has been offering a global investment service, ploughing hundreds of millions of pounds of dirty cash into offshore accounts, companies, and property on behalf of criminals. A financial investigation is already underway."

(DW/GK)

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