herald

Saturday 25 January 2020

Cars and drugs seized in radids on trafficking gang

An Audi A5 was seized in the Criminal Assets Bureau raid
An Audi A5 was seized in the Criminal Assets Bureau raid

A 44-year-old senior member of an Albanian crime mob, whose crew are suspected of being heavily involved in people trafficking, was the chief target of the latest raids by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

The Herald can reveal the gang had been planning on setting up a business in Bray, along with its car washing business in west Dublin.

"These businesses are suspected of being used as a front for the crime gang who are up to their necks in all types of organised criminality from drugs to people trafficking," a source said.

Two high-end cars were seized, along with €22,000 in cash and an expensive Swiss watch. They were discovered by CAB during five searches in Dublin and Wicklow yesterday morning.

Target

"The background to this case involves a sizeable drugs seizure in the Tallaght area which occurred in November 2016, in which the son of the target was arrested," a source said.

"As part of follow-up searches in relation to that seizure, 25,000 in sterling cash was seized connected to his father, who is the main target of the CAB investigation.

"This money could not be accounted for in a legitimate way and therefore CAB began their investigations.

A Hublot watch was seized
A Hublot watch was seized

"This individual has been based in Ireland for over two decades and his gang are suspected of involvement in human trafficking, but details of this cannot be released at this stage."

No one has been arrested, but investigators have been given permission to freeze €190,000 in bank accounts linked to the suspect.

Five searches were conducted during the operation at a house in Dublin 15, two business premises - one in Dublin 15 and one in Co Wicklow - and two professional premises - one in Dublin 15 and one in Dublin 2. These were the offices of an accountant and an estate agent.

Gardai yesterday announced details of the raids.

During the searches, around €500 worth of cocaine was seized, as well as around £12,000 and €10,000 in cash, and a Hublot watch.

A 131 Audi A5 car and a 142 Mercedes C Class were also seized, as well as financial documents and electronic devices.

Over €190,000 held in financial accounts were also restrained on foot of orders.

Gardai said the CAB investigation centres on an individual who is a suspected member of an Albanian Crime Gang involved in the sale and supply of controlled drugs, as well as people smuggling and trafficking.

In May 2017, the Herald revealed specialist gardai were conducting a number of top- secret operations against the Albanian mafia in the capital, which has led to almost €1m worth of cannabis herb being seized in the space of a fortnight at the time.

A special Herald investigation revealed the Albanian gangsters have been laundering their cash through chippers and car wash businesses across the capital.

"They are under-cutting everyone - they are actually pretending to be Italian nationals. They are washing their money into chippers and car washes," a source said last night.

Feared

"The weed they are selling is actually being grown in their own country and it is being brought in here vacuum-packed and ready to go," the source added.

The cheap cannabis herb has led to an increase in gangland tensions on the streets because Irish criminals feel they are being "put out of business" by the Albanian mafia.

The group is one of the most feared crime organisations in Europe.

Many of the foot soldiers are highly professional, with many ex-military from Albanian, Kosovan or Russian armies.

Some of them have Albanian ex-police contacts and had gathered information on investigation techniques used by gardai.

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