A gang believed to be behind a spate of daring ATM robberies using diggers in the middle of the night has been dealt a major blow after a series of multi-agency raids by gardai, Customs and Revenue.
The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), with the assistance of the garda Emergency Response Unit, the garda Stolen Motor Vehicle Investigation Unit and the Revenue Customs Dog Unit conducted searches of 10 locations across Meath, Cavan and Monaghan yesterday morning.
They seized a car, a quantity of illicit cigarettes, financial documents, documentation in relation to the ownership of assets, and a laptop computer.
A working fuel-laundering plant was also found and evidence of offences relating to waste management obtained.
The searches were carried out in four professional premises, four residential premises, and two yards.
A garda spokeswoman confirmed the searches were targeting the assets and activities of an organised crime gang involved in the theft of ATMs across Meath, Cavan and Monaghan.
"The CAB investigation is in support of the investigation being undertaken by local gardai in the Meath and Cavan/ Monaghan Garda Divisions."
The CAB was also assisted by Revenue Customs (Marked Mineral Oil Unit) and Environmental Engineers.
"The operation marks a significant development in the CAB operation, which has been shadowing the criminal investigation being conducted by local gardai, supported by national units and follows on from a number of significant seizures of cash and other property by the gardai over the past number of weeks," said the garda spokeswoman.
"The CAB investigation relates to cash, vehicles, other assets and real estate property that may represent the proceeds of crime."
In recent weeks, huge sums of cash have been recovered and two arrests made in relation to the activities of the gang.
Two of the arrests followed the interception of the gang as a robbery was about to take place in Virginia, Co Cavan, in the early hours of August 7.
Gardai also found €300,000 in a follow-up search in Moynalty, Co Meath.
Bizarrely, the bungling raiders suspected of being behind a spate of ATM raids were arrested by gardai after they returned to the scene of the €300,000 seizure to try and retrieve money not recovered by gardai in their initial search.
One of them, aged 25, had only been released from garda custody the day before.
The men were caught as a garda surveillance team staked out a location where officers had recovered more than €300,000 the previous week.
Also there was his brother (33), and a 37-year-old suspected gang member from Newry, Co Down.
Gardai watched as the trio retrieved a sum of €104,000 before moving in on the suspects.
All were questioned under money-laundering and anti-gang legislation at Kells and Navan Garda Stations in Co Meath. They were released without charge and files will be prepared for the DPP.
Before being arrested in Virginia the gang was suspected of up to half a dozen cross-border ATM raids this year.