Expensive cars, cash, jewellery and other suspected proceeds of crime worth more than half a million euro have been seized in raids on the Irish wing of a suspected international drugs cartel.
Twenty nine vehicles, including top of the range BMWs, VW Golfs and some Mercedes, Audi and Lexus models, were taken in the crackdown on associates of murdered gang figure David Byrne.
Twelve homes and six businesses were targeted in the blitz on gangland suspects linked to Christy Kinahan.
He was arrested in a mansion in Spain in 2010 as part of an investigation into an international drugs and money laundering racket, but has not been charged.
Among the premises raided were the offices of solicitors and accountants.
The pre-dawn operation was co-ordinated by the Criminal Assets Bureau and initially targeted homes in the Crumlin area of Dublin, some of which are monitored by security cameras.
One property was formerly a red brick semi-detached on Raleigh Square which has been extensively redeveloped and extended – while other homes opposite the house were also raided.
Houses on Kildare Road and the Windmill Road areas of Crumlin were searched and the front door of one property had to be broken down.
Six high powered motorbikes were also impounded.
Gardai said jewellery of “considerable value” was seized along with 30,000 euro in cash.
Active Car Sales in Bluebell was one of the businesses raided by CAB officers with several top of the range and executive style cars taken from the lock-up.
It is believed the company was previously registered to Byrne’s brother Liam.
It has a live website offering expensive, new and second hand cars, with several valued at 30-40,000 euro.
Gardai insisted the crackdown was not sparked by the audacious gun attack on the boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel last month where Byrne was killed, or scenes of a cavalcade of limousines at Byrne’s funeral and a coffin reported to have cost about 18,000 euro.
“The searches are being conducted as part of an ongoing investigation into organised crime groups which has been under way for some considerable time,” the Garda press office said.
Assistant Garda Commissioner Derek Byrne also insisted the raids had been in the pipeline.
The CAB inquiry will involve the cars being analysed and valued and top officers also have the option of going to court to seek to freeze the assets as investigations continue.
During the operation the unit was backed up by elite armed gardai, the drugs squad, the Special Detective and Organised Crime units and Revenue Customs officers as well as uniformed gardai.
There has been speculation that it was retaliation for the murder of 34-year-old Gary Hutch at the Angel de Miraflores apartment complex on the Costa del Sol in September last year.
Byrne’s murder was avenged within days when Eddie Hutch, taxi driver and brother of suspected armed robber Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, was shot dead in his home.