Detectives chasing an organised crime gang which stole €100k of cigarettes from a moving truck have made major progress in their investigation.
The shocking theft occurred on a 50km stretch of the M7 motorway when the truck was travelling at over 80kph.
The Herald can reveal that detectives have already seized a vehicle they found parked in the Tallaght area and which they believe was used in the audacious crime.
It is understood that this vehicle had a "tape-like substance" on its bonnet that provided enough grip for the gangsters to jump onto it from the moving truck and pass the cigarettes into the vehicle before jumping back onto the truck and repeating the action until they emptied the cargo.
It has been the focus of a major probe by gardai based in Portlaoise and it has now emerged that arrests in the case are "very likely". None of the cigarettes have been recovered.
The vehicle drove behind the truck heading southbound near the M7 tollbooth and two men jumped from the bonnet of that vehicle onto the rear of the truck during the incident, which happened on March 2 at around 5am.
It is understood that as this was happening another vehicle drove in front of the lorry, causing the truck to slow down and enabling the raiders to get onto the truck. The pair of thieves entered the truck and used paint to spray CCTV cameras in the trailer. They also used cutters to disable an alarm system in the vehicle.
Sources said that the gang - who are suspected of being Romanian nationals - were "very CCTV aware" and even had a cordless angle grinder, though they did not need to use it.
The cigarettes were being transported from Ashbourne, Co Meath to Shannon, Co Clare. Associates of the gang are suspected of being involved in attempted ATM thefts around the country.
"This is an international crime gang who have been involved in a spate of organised heists across Europe," a senior source explained.
This type of crime - which is becoming more prevalent in continental Europe - has been nicknamed a "Romanian roll-over" by police authorities as it is believed to have been invented by gangs from that country.