Dawn raids smash major crime gang's 'car-robbing ring'
DETECTIVES have smashed a major syndicate involved in supplying cars to crime gangs.
A series of dawn raids led gardai to seize high-powered BMWs and Mercedes at a number of sites across Dublin.
Officers searched several garages suspected of being "chop shops", where high-end cars are stripped down and dismantled to be used in criminal enterprises.
Our exclusive photos show detectives from the Organised Crime Unit (OCU) and the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) involved in a major search in Ballbriggan, north Dublin.
Sources say officers believe they have managed to "shakedown" one of the country's biggest "car robbing rings".
A source told the Herald: "This is the big end of the game. The operation followed months of surveillance.
"It is believed that many of the vehicles were used for very serious crime."
The bust, carried out under the codename Operation Wireless, is linked to a major Lithuanian gang.
Dozens of officers received instructions about specific sites to target before dawn yesterday.
They moved in at 7am and continued to search many of the premises until late in the evening. Searches also took place earlier at locations in Ballymun, Baldoyle, Tallaght and Crumlin.
A number of houses in the north and south inner city were also raided.
Several high-end vehicles, laptops, mobile phones and documents were seized.
Detectives also made a number of arrests, including some suspects who had outstanding warrants against them.
Although the main target was the Lithuanian gang, many of those targeted yesterday were from the Travelling community.
All are suspected of being deeply involved in gangland criminal activity in Dublin.
The OCU and CAB were backed-up yesterday by local detective units and customs officers.
Although the raids came as a total surprise to the criminals, there were no major incidents or altercations while the searches took place.
Gardai are also investigating whether some of the sites were being used for fuel-laundering.
"The suspicion is that there were some extremely lucrative crime businesses operating in these locations," said a source.
Yesterday's raids came just under a year after 98 people were quizzed as part of a major crackdown on organised crime.
They were all detained as part of the first phase of Operation Wireless.
On that occasion, gardai seized €3.5m worth of cannabis and carried out more than 230 searches across the country.
Unlike yesterday's operation in which there were no high-profile targets, gangs linked to convicted criminals Greg Lynch and Rice were targeted.