Major drug traffickers with links to South America and the United Arab Emirates hit by major CAB operation

Major drug traffickers with links to South America and the United Arab Emirates hit by major CAB operation

High-level Irish drug traffickers – with links from South America to the United Arab Emirates – have been hit by a major search operation led by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Two “facilitators” of Ireland’s biggest drug gangs, including one led by a crime boss known as Mr Big, were targeted in a massive property raid early on Wednesday.

One of the key assets in the CAB investigation is a luxury coastal home in Donegal, suspected to belong to Mr Big.

The large residence, completed and equipped to “high specifications”, is estimated to be worth more than €1 million.

The two facilitators are considered major players in the logistics of international drug shipments, particularly bulk cocaine trafficking from South America, for several major gangs, including that led by Mr Big.

Originally from north Dublin, the gang boss in his 40s has been one of Ireland’s top drug traffickers for up to 20 years.

This man, along with another Dublin criminal, is suspected of ordering the murder of Real IRA chief Alan Ryan in 2012.

A statement issued by the CAB said the people targeted in Wednesday’s operation were people suspected of drug trafficking on an “international scale”, with links to organized crime in Spain, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates.

Mr Big sometimes resides in the United Arab Emirates, which is also the country where the leaders of the Kinahan criminal cartel live.

A total of 23 properties were registered, including homes, businesses and professional offices.

A top-of-the-range 2023 Volvo XC90 was seized, and private sales of this car with similar specifications ranged between 80,000 and 90,000 euros.

In addition, 73,000 euros were frozen in a bank account.

Several electronic devices were seized and will be subject to forensic examination.

A series of financial documentation was removed, focusing on money movements, including the finances behind the purchase of the Donegal property.

In a statement, CAB said a search operation was carried out in Co Donegal and the West Dublin Metropolitan Region.

“The operation was carried out by officers from the Office with the support of Gardaí from Milford District, Donegal Division, the Regional Armed Support Unit, the Customs Dog Unit and members of the National Drugs and Organized Crime Bureau. Garda,” he said.

More than 70 people took part in a total of 23 searches across Donegal and Dublin West, which included residential, business premises and professional searches.

“The operation was carried out as part of a Criminal Assets Bureau investigation into the assets of people suspected of being involved in international drug trafficking,” the statement said.

“This organized criminal gang (OCG) operates in this jurisdiction and has extensive links to Co. Donegal and North Dublin, as well as Scotland, Spain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).” He said the following items were seized or frozen:

  • *Volvo XC90 model 2023.
  • *Around €73,000 in bank account.
  • *Electronics devices.
  • *Financial documents.

“Today’s search operation was carried out as part of an ongoing proceeds of crime investigation targeting assets, including real estate, derived in whole or in part from the proceeds of criminal activity,” he said.

The trader’s property in Donegal, which has been built and equipped to a “high specification”, is understood to be a key part of the investigation.

The CAB statement said: “This particular investigation was supported by a series of Good Citizen Reports (GCR) and also the assistance of a Divisional Asset Profiler.” CAB has previously highlighted the importance of confidential and anonymous tips from locals when launching a potential investigation.

Local gardaí, who are trained by the CAB as asset profilers, typically work with this information and carry out various investigations, before sending a file to CAB headquarters in Dublin for consideration.