One of Ireland's most prolific crime gangs has invested almost €1.5m in a legitimate high-end car dealership in the capital, the Herald can reveal.
The drug-trafficking mob, led by convicted heroin dealer Brian Grendon (42), has been the subject of numerous raids by specialist garda units but the prominent Dublin dealership has not yet been targeted by detectives.
We cannot name the business for legal reasons but can reveal that 'The Family' gang has employed a car dealer who is struggling with alcohol and cocaine addictions to run the business.
"This is a massive money-laundering enterprise and the difference between this and other car dealerships linked to this gang that have been raided by CAB is that the gang have no obvious links to the business," a source said last night.
"They are not listed as company directors or the company secretary and it is believed they hired a man from north Dublin to set up the company that officially owns the car dealership.
"The likes of Brian Grendon or other senior gang members have never set foot inside the place because of the attention that would bring and there is no obvious paperwork or company records to link them to the dealership.
"Yet big, big money is being laundered through the business by the sale of high-end cars including BMWs and Mercedes."
The gang has been using Dublin garages to launder money for years and in June 2017, in a major operation by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), five car dealerships were raided and another three visited by officers in searches which yielded more than €1m of assets, including luxury watches and high-end cars.
The last major CAB raids against 'The Family' gang happened last September when armed gardai swooped on a gym in a leafy south Dublin suburb in which the gang is suspected of investing huge amounts of money.
"They are trying to move away from using car dealerships to launder money but the activities of the prominent dealership in Dublin show that this is still their favoured way of laundering money," the source added.
Pressure continues to grow on 'The Family' gang, which is also a main target for the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB). This led it to shutting down a car sales business in November 2018 that was being used as a front for its drugs-trafficking operations.
"The gang have used their drugs money to invest in other businesses and a lot of this was the car sales sector but they have moved into gyms, shops and other businesses as well," the source said.
Last September, the CAB seized a €67,000 Range Rover in the Clondalkin area for VRT offences.
The mob has been one of the gardaí's main targets for years because of its massive heroin and cocaine-dealing network.
Brian Grendon and his older brother Philip are classified as two of the main leaders of the gang, whose stronghold is in the Clondalkin and Ballyfermot areas.
Brian Grendon was jailed for six years in December 2002 for the possession of €1.9m of heroin in a Palmerstown pub in November 2001.
Philip Grendon (45) is understood to have been released from a tough Spanish jail last year after he was caught in a bizarre bust in August 2014.
Spanish police arrested him after he threw one of two suitcases containing €3.8m of cocaine from a Valencia hotel window in a paranoid fit.