| 9.5°C Dublin

Drogheda feud thug one of 32 arrested in money mule swoop

Close

Det Supt Michael Cryan

Det Supt Michael Cryan

Det Supt Michael Cryan

A young criminal involved in the deadly Drogheda feud is one of 32 people who have been arrested for being so-called money mules.

The arrests were part of the fraud squad's Operation Ransom.

Detectives are investigating people who allow their bank accounts to be used by organised crime groups to withdraw and deposit money stolen from other accounts.

In total, €1.5m has been stolen so far, and more arrests are expected.

The Herald can reveal that the 20-year-old became a mule after losing drugs owned by one of the gangs.

He has been convicted of a violent aggravated burglary in which an innocent family were terrorised as he desperately tried to get the money back to the feuding mob.

Senior sources said a massive investigation by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) has identified 53 people who acted as mules in this case.

Laundered

It is one of five investigations being carried out, with three more being accessed by the bureau.

"In this particular case, another 21 people are yet to be arrested," Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan said.

"The average age of the suspects is 19 and they are based all over Ireland."

Gardaí and the banks yesterday warned of an increase in the crime, with the industry estimating that more than €12m has been laundered using money mules so far this year.

Det Supt Cryan, who is leading Operation Ransom, revealed that in one case a man used the account of his 15-year-old brother to launder cash.

"It's an easy crime for gardaí to solve," he said, because the mules use their own personal bank accounts.

"There's a perception among young people that it isn't serious, but it's very serious.

"There's a potential conviction for people under the money laundering and terrorism financing legislation and it carries a huge prison sentence."

Money mules can face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.