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Fraudster quizzed after huge drugs, guns and money bust targeting Lithuanian gang

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Bundles of cash, bags full of drugs and several firearms and ammunition were seized

Bundles of cash, bags full of drugs and several firearms and ammunition were seized

Bundles of cash, bags full of drugs and several firearms and ammunition were seized

A 41-year-old Lithuanian fraudster is being questioned by gardaí over the seizure of three guns, nearly €1m worth of drugs and nearly €500,000 in cash as the influence of eastern European crime gangs in Ireland grows.

The seizure was made on Tuesday morning when gardaí carried out a planned search operation at a business in Rathfeigh, Co Meath.

Much of the cash, drugs and guns were found hidden in secret compartments of vehicles at the location.

Trafficking

Sources said the huge haul was controlled by a Lithuanian gang whose primary base is in west Dublin, but who are involved in a nationwide and international drugs trafficking network.

The suspect in custody last night at Ashbourne garda station was already the subject of a joint investigation by Swords gardaí and the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) in relation to a bogus personal injury claim.

"This investigation will be the least of his worries now. The suspect faces a very lengthy jail sentence if convicted in relation to this week's seizure," a source said.

The Lithuanian national is known to gardaí and has lived in Swords for several years.

"He is associated with a number of very serious Lithuanian criminals who have been involved in all types of crime, including bogus insurance claims," the source added.

The gang is one of a number of eastern European-based mobs who expanded their networks here in recent years.

Gardaí yesterday announced details of the seizure, saying "€958,800 of suspected drugs, €489,120 in cash and three firearms with ammunition" were seized.

"During the course of the search, approximately €570,000 of suspected MDMA tablets, approximately €156,000 of suspected MDMA powder, approximately €140,800 of suspected cocaine, approximately €80,000 of suspected cannabis herb and approximately 6,000 suspected Xanax tablets with an estimated value of €12,000, were seized," a spokesman said.

"In total, the suspected drugs seized have an estimated value of €958,800, pending analysis.

"Cash to the value of €489,120 was also seized. Gardaí also recovered a Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun, two Walther 9mm handguns, two silencers and 75 rounds of 9mm Luger and Fiocchi ammunition."

Concerned

Gardaí have become increasingly concerned about the activities of eastern European gangs operating in Ireland.

Last month, a 29-year-old Lithuanian national was arrested after gardaí recovered €300,000 worth of drugs, a semi-automatic handgun and ammunition during a series of raids in west Dublin.

Officers conducted searches last month in Dublin, Cork, Wat- erford and Kerry as part of an operation targeting a separate Lithuanian gang.

The operation, carried out with Lithuanian authorities and the PSNI, helped dismantle a mob involved in human-trafficking and drug dealing on an international scale.