By Sarah Neville
Thursday September 04 2008
DUTCH police have seized a huge haul of illegal weapons, including 165 guns and 7,000 rounds of ammunition that looked set to flood the Irish market.
The immense seizure has been linked to an Irish gang run by killer Brian Meehan and to recent drug and gun seizures made by gardai.
Authorities in Holland seized the arms following a tip-off from gardai earlier this week. The haul was destined for Ireland and was linked to a drug and weapons trafficking operation running between Holland, the UK, Belfast and Dublin by Meehan’s gang. Meehan, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, is believed to be running his criminal operation from inside prison.
The Dutch public prosecution department described the find as the biggest haul of illegal weapons in recent years.
Authorities believe Meehan planned to use the haul to re-establish his gang in Dublin. However, this seizure will prove a massive blow to the criminal, who was John Gilligan’s right- hand man.
Some 165 guns, including new Glock pistols, a favourite with Irish criminals, 7,000 rounds of ammunition, silencers and laser sights were seized in a commercial property in the district of Amsterdam Oud-West. Computers, mobile phones and €20,000 in cash were also seized along with a cash-counting machine.
The raid follows a tip-off from gardai investigating a criminal organisation involved with illegal weapon and drugs trading and cigarette smuggling.
Officers here dealt a serious blow to Meehan’s gang recently with a significant seizure of guns and drugs. A number of arrests have been made here. Dutch police immediately raided three addresses in Amsterdam and one in Zaandam.
The guns are believed to have been hidden in plastic bags, in concrete and in wood wall panels at the three locations.
Three men and a woman, aged between 27 and 53, have been arrested in connection with the discorery.
No further details have been released as to their identities. The four people arrested are due to appear in court in Rotterdam tomorrow.
The seizure came about after a four-month investigation, codenamed Operation Bench, involving customs and police services in the Republic, the North and the Netherlands.
- Sarah Neville