Gardai find €50k on kitchen table in raid on drugs boss home
Pressure is continuing to grow on one of Ireland’s biggest drug dealers after gardai seized €50,000 in cash in a raid on his Co Meath home.
Officers from the Garda DMR North drugs unit carried out a “targeted search” of the crimelord’s home earlier this month and seized the money, which was on the kitchen table, sources said.
Detectives this weekend are continuing their investigation into the dealer’s trafficking network in north Dublin.
“He clearly wasn’t expecting visitors as the money was in plain sight and the gardai didn’t have to do much looking around before they got it,” a source said.
“This individual is a drugs trafficker on a massive scale, but even he will suffer because of the loss of this cash, which gardai suspect is ill-gotten gains. It was a good capture.”
Detectives from the drugs unit are expected to mount “ongoing operations” against the target, who is a close associate of murdered criminal Sean Dunne.
The gangster, aged in his 40s, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has barely any previous record, despite having been one of the main targets of the international police investigation codenamed Operation Majesty in September 2013.
Gardai released details at that time that €2.5m in cash and €2.5m worth of cannabis herb, along with firearms, ammunition, grenades and luxury cars, were seized in Ireland and across Europe.
The gang set up a massive criminal operation importing cannabis from the Netherlands via the postal system.
Operation Majesty was revealed after gardai targeted the gang boss in separate raids that led to the seizure of €4.4m worth of drugs and thousands of euro worth of contraband cigarettes.
Dunne was an armed robber and drug dealer who disappeared in Spain in 2004.
He is presumed to have been murdered.
At the time of his disappearance, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) was seeking around €4m from him after assessing him for unpaid taxes on his income since the mid-1990s.
CAB identified 13 properties owned by him, as well as land in Co Meath.
The suspect from whom the €50,000 cash was seized was an associate of Richie Carberry, who was shot dead outside his home in Bettystown, Co Meath, last November.
Only weeks earlier, the pair were suspected of being part of an alliance of north city organised crime gangs who were left millions of euro out of pocket after a garda bust that was part of a major international surveillance operation.
Cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €3.2m was seized.
It had been hidden in a legitimate load of fresh vegetables in Co Louth.
Four quizzed over murders of missing couple Willie and Ana
A male relative of a famous boxer, the sister of a notorious crime lord and a close associate of a gun murder victim were among four people being questioned last night about the double murder of a couple whose bodies have never been found.
The three are suspected of having been in the immediate vicinity and may even have witnessed the murders of Willie Maughan and his pregnant girlfriend Ana Varslavane at a property in Gormanston, Co Meath, on April 14, 2015.
A fourth person, a man in his 20s, was also arrested in Dublin yesterday evening.
A massive search operation for evidence took place yesterday at the compound of gang boss Cornelius Price, where gardai believe the couple were murdered.
Gardai drafted in members of the Defence Forces to help in their extensive searches.
Our photos show soldiers searching ditches and ass isting the garda Dog Unit during the raid.
The four suspects were arrested in raids in Co Meath and Co Longford, and they were all being questioned at different garda stations in Co Meath and Dublin last night.
“Two men, aged in their 50s and 60s, and one woman, aged in her 40s, are currently detained at garda stations in counties Meath and Dublin under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939,” a garda spokesman said.
They are not suspected of being active participants in the double murder, but all are suspected of “having key knowledge about it”.
The arrests were welcomed last night by Mr Maughan’s father, Joe, who told the Herald: “We are hoping and praying that we will get justice. My family want to thank the gardai for not giving up in this case.”
The arrested female, the mother of several children, lives in Navan, Co Meath, and is the sister of a notorious crime lord who is also a person of interest in the case.
Another of the arrested people, the man aged in his 60s, is from Munster and related to a well-known former boxer who fought in high-profile international bouts before retiring.
“Unlike his famous relative, this suspect was down on his luck and lived a miserable and meagre existence, like many others of Price’s gophers,” a source said last night.
“Gardai believe that just like the arrested women, he was there when those terrible murders happened.
“The boxing star has very little to do with him and would have absolutely no knowledge of these disgusting events.”
Also being questioned last night was a 52-year-old man from Balbriggan, who was closely associated with gun murder victim Benny Whitehouse.
This suspect also “lived the life of a slave” in Price’s compound, despite the fact Price’s gang are the chief suspects for the murder of his friend.
Mr Whitehouse was shot dead at Clonard Street, Balbriggan, on September 25, 2014, in front of his partner in an unsolved gangland murder.
“These arrests and the new searches are all about gardai trying to get the information that could lead to charges in this case,” a senior source said.
“Gardai are in no doubt that these individuals know what happened.”
As the garda operation took place, Price remained in England, where he has been based for most of this year.
Price is closely associated with the Maguire faction in the Drogheda feud and other criminal factions nationwide.
Mr Maughan (34) and his Latvian girlfriend Ms Varslavane (21) are believed to have been abducted and murdered by the gang after they went missing on April 14, 2015, in Gormanston.
The couple were planning on moving back to his family home in Tallaght on the day they went missing and are understood to have been murdered because they had key information about the gang’s activities, including another murder.
In April 2017, gardai failed to find any evidence of the murdered couple when they carried out a dig near Monasterboice, Co Louth.
Days before the dig, officers raided Price’s compound as part of the double murder probe.
The Herald previously revealed that Price taunted and laughed at gardai as they searched for the couple near his compound in the summer of 2015.
Gardai arrested a man in his 50s in late April in relation to the double murder, and he was later charged with separate serious firearms offences.