Gardai carried out a search operation against two brothers suspected of being behind attempts to poison horses and contaminate milk supplies as part of a campaign of intimidation, the Herald can reveal.
The operation targeting the middle-aged pair took place yesterday in Granard, Co Longford, but no arrests were made.
Sources said last night that the bizarre incidents are part of an "escalating campaign of harassment and intimidation" against innocent landowners who have allegedly been victims of criminal damage, arson and other acts.
In the latest incident, thous-ands of litres of milk belonging to one of the alleged victims was contaminated with penicillin.
The incident late last month emerged when the milk, which was in a large container, was routinely tested.
The discovery meant the milk had to be destroyed, leaving the land owner "severely out of pocket".
This followed an incident in late March when "rat poison was put in horse feed" in an attempt to kill horses owned by the landowner.
If a horse eats rat poison, it can lead to excessive internal bleeding and death. It can take up to five days for the animal to display adverse symptoms.
"Thankfully, the landowner noticed the pellets of rat poison in the horse feed, otherwise he could easily have had some dead animals on his hands," a source said last night.
"These are very serious matters, and that is why gardai carried out a planned search operation in relation to what happened.
"This is very serious intimidation and it has been going on for years, but is just getting worse."
It is understood that some evidence was seized during the raids on the two properties, and this will now be examined by specialist gardai.
The alleged campaign of intimidation began after two farmers bought land that the Revenue Commissioners had seized from the brothers over unpaid tax bills.
The dispute has been the subject of ongoing High Court proceedings as well as the lengthy garda investigation.
Sources said the brothers at the centre of the intimidation campaign have links to cross-border criminals and others in counties Longford, Roscommon and Sligo.
One of the brothers is facing serious theft charges before the courts, and both men have been the subject of a number of garda searches in the past.
It is understood they have links to a cross-border crew who have been involved in cattle rustling and the theft of plant and heavy machinery.
They have no involvement in the Longford feud, which has "eased off" considerably in recent months because some of the main players are locked up in jail and because of movement restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
"They have no interest or involvement in that feud at all," the source added.