Monday, 29 May 2000

Godfathers of crime: a 13-gang syndicate

irish independent


Monday May 29 2000
THIRTEEN gangs control organised crime in the State, according to a major security report to be placed before a meeting of EU justice and home...

THIRTEEN gangs control organised crime in the State, according to a major security report to be placed before a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Brussels today.

The report reveals how seven of the crime groups are using legitimate enterprises such as a coal retailing business, a construction firm, a wholesale outfit, pubs, shops and gambling as a front to launder their huge profits from lawbreaking.

And it says that the continued buoyancy of the economy generally and the property market in particular has provided the godfathers of crime with increased opportunities to launder the multi-million pound cash gains from drug trafficking, armed robbery and computer component theft.

But it concludes that the measures adopted by the Government and the Gardai over the past four years to combat organised crime have significantly tipped the scales against the big gang bosses.

The study of organised crime in all EU member states has been drawn up for today's meeting, which is being attended by Justice Minister John O'Donoghue whose policies receive a favourable mention in the report.

The report discloses that about 62pc of all crime gangs are located in Dublin while another 13pc are based in the Border regions. Three-fifths of the gangs have established contacts outside Ireland, mainly because of the activities of a small number of Irish criminals now involved in drug trafficking in Europe and the international network set up to dispose of stolen computer components.

The report estimates that a total of 1,202 disclosures of suspicious financial transactions with a value in excess of £125m were reported in 1998. About half were associated with organised crime.

But despite their sophistication and contacts, there was no evidence that any of the groups had influence over the judicial, executive or legislative arms of the State.

Drug-related crimes and armed robberies were the main activities of the big gangs and the volume of drugs seized in the south west in the past had indicated that Ireland had operated as a transit country. One particular cocaine seizure in 1998 was given as an example.

The report pointed out that some groups based in Dublin and the north east were heavily involved in smuggling cigarettes with one gang operating on an international basis and linked to the supply of cigarettes to a range of member States.

It is significant, according to the report, that gambling, prostitution and child pornography in Ireland does not occur in the organised crime sector.

And it highlights the impact of the Criminal Assets Bureau and the introduction of a witness security programme in playing important roles in the efforts to combat organised crime.


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