herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

€800k drug swoop at warehouse in Hassan car scam

A WAREHOUSE where detectives seized 2,000 cannabis plants worth €800,000 was also used in a criminal enterprise by one of Ireland's most notorious foreign criminals.

Hassan Hassan -- the Lebanese criminal who gardai believe ordered the murder of his innocent wife Baiba Saulite in a murder that shocked the nation in 2006 -- used the same warehouse in Colbinstown, Co Kildare, before he was busted after a massive garda operation in 2004.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning armed detectives again swooped on the warehouse, which is located near Kilcullen, Co Kildare, and discovered the massive haul.

A local man aged in his 50s was arrested and brought to Newbridge Garda Station in Co Kildare where he was released without charge on Thursday.

A file on the drugs case will now be prepared for the DPP and follow up enquiries are being made by the Garda National Drugs Unit and detectives based at Newbridge.

Sources say that the drugs bust is in no way connected to Hassan Hassan (43) who left Ireland in March, 2010, after serving a number of jail sentences at Portlaoise Prison.



Annoying

A local source explained that this week's bust happened after "gardai discovered the cannabis factory because the diesel generator used to keep the lighting and irrigation system working became loud and was running throughout the night annoying neighbours."

It is understood that a local criminal has forged links with an oriental gang to cultivate cannabis at the warehouse.

The bust in Co Kildare is linked to a seizure at an Industrial Unit near Ballyboughil, Co Dublin on Tuesday evening where 1,500 cannabis plants worth €600,000 were found as well as €240,000 worth of freshly harvested cannabis.

This week's massive drugs bust at the warehouse in Colbinstown happened almost eight years to the day since Hassan Hassan's major car-stealing scam was uncovered by gardai in the same premises.

On that occasion gardai found about 20 top-of-the-range stolen vehicles, all of which were being stripped and prepared for export to eastern Europe. Four men from Lebanon and Syria were arrested, charged and later convicted, including Hassan Hassan who was jailed for four years .

While he was subsequently in jail he linked up with Limerick criminals and a crew of drug dealers from north Dublin. He is now understood to be based in the Middle East.

kfoy@herald.ie

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