herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Gardai targeted over 600 crime gangs and seized €700m of drugs in 2014

Paschal Kelly
Paschal Kelly

Gardai investigated 621 organised crime gangs across the country and seized almost €700m worth of drugs last year, it was revealed in the force's annual report for 2014.

The report, published yesterday, reveals that murder threats and assaults increased last year, while the murder rate remained the same as 2013, with 52 people being murdered in the State.

Garda management said last year that officers managed to "target and disrupt" the activities of over 6oo gangs in the State, mainly through operations co-ordinated under the burglary crackdown known as Operation Fiacla, and the targeting of drug trafficking and distribution networks and human trafficking gangs.

Arrested

Among the more high-profile gangsters captured by gardai last year was Paschal Kelly, who was arrested in a special operation at a remote location close to Castlepollard, Co Westmeath, last October.

In March, Kelly was jailed for four and a half years for tax evasion, threats to kill a CAB officer, and serious driving offences.

Gardai continued to keep pressure on dozens of other crime groupings, including the mob linked to murdered burglary gang boss 'Fat' Andy Connors, as well as dissident thugs linked to Declan 'Whacker' Duffy, and drug trafficking associates of Tallaght crimelord Paul Rice.

The force's major drive against the burglary gangs led to just over 4,000 people being arrested last year and resulted in a total of 2,369 suspects being charged before the courts nationwide.

The report details six different major garda investigations throughout 2014 which targeted drugs gangs.

"In 2014 the Garda National Drugs Unit arrested 60 persons in connection with drug trafficking offences with €698,234,000 of controlled drugs seized which included cocaine, heroin, herbal cannabis, cannabis resin and ecstasy. In total 43 significant seizures were made," the report states.

Among those targeted were some of Ireland's most dangerous drugs gangs, including the Christy Kinahan cartel and the 'Mr Big' crime syndicate.

Over €698m worth of drugs was seized over the year. More than half of this total was discovered in a joint operation with the Naval and Customs Services off the coast of Cork last September when €350m of cocaine was recovered.

However, gardai had less success in tackling white-collar crime, with a total of just 33 commercial fraud investigations conducted and 46 people targeted with tax assessments having been deemed to have gained financially from crime.

The report also shows an increase in the number of deaths on the road 195 - seven more deaths last year compared to 2013.

It outlined that the number of pedestrian fatalities rose from 31 to 42 last year, and the number of passenger fatalities rose from 32 to 39. Disturbingly, the number of children under 16 who lost their life on the roads rose from seven to 16.

Last year, gardai investigated over 9,000 missing persons cases, and issued over 200,000 penalty-point notices.

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