Gardai have seized a €4million drug money stash from Ireland’s most secretive crime cartel.
The gang known as “The Family” have grown into the country’s biggest mob while cops were battling the Kinahan-Hutch feud.
Sources estimated they have smuggled €100million in dirty money out of the country in the past five years.
The criminal empire has grown under the radar while resources were pumped into chasing the Kinahan cartel.
The Family is headed up by two brothers based in the Ballyfermot area of West Dublin, with around a dozen loyal associates scattered across west and north Co Dublin.
They built their business by mainly trafficking heroin and sources revealed the outfit has steered clear of murders and the mob violence that placed their rivals in the police spotlight.
It is understood the brothers leading the gang have no major criminal
Gardai have now made the mob public enemy number one and have been secretly building intelligence on them for several months in operations led by the Drugs and Organised Crime unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau.
This led to the massive cash haul on Wednesday – thought to be the biggest seizure of dirty money in the history of the State – and the arrest of one man.
A spokesman said personnel attached to the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau undertook searches of two premises, one in Co Laois and the other in Co Kerry.
The raids came “in the course of targeting the suspected criminal activities of a particular organised crime group, believed to be involved in drug trafficking at an international level”.
The spokesman added: “In the course of the two searches, investigating members located and seized a quantity of cash estimated to total €4million – subject to completion of counting – along with three motor vehicles.
“A male, 46 years old, was arrested on suspicion of having committed an organised crime-related offence and is currently detained at Tralee Garda station.”
The investigation into The Family was headed up by senior officers including Det Chief Supt Angela Willis, of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, CAB chief Mick Gubbins and Assistant Commissioners Orla McPartlin and John O’Driscoll.
Asst Commissioner O’Driscoll said: “An Garda Siochana, through its organised and serious crime section, continues to target criminal activity associated with organised crime groups with a particular focus on depriving those concerned of the proceeds of their criminal activity.
“The seizure by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau of cash, potentially to the extent of €4million, bringing to €8million the total amount of cash seized by GNDOCB so far this year, is another important achievement, reflecting our determination to dismantle particular organised crime groups.”
Sources revealed the West Dublin mob has replaced the Kinahan cartel as the main suppliers of heroin and other drugs into the Republic and the North.
A source said: “The Kinahans have become an international cartel and are not bothered with the Irish market in the way they once were.
“Ireland now is an irritant to them where they have to fight a feud. They still have plenty of associates and money and guns here but their attention is elsewhere on investing money in legitimate businesses around the world.
“In the vacuum, this other gang has become the biggest drug gang in the country. They have grown while the attention has been on the Kinahans and they stayed away from feuds and murders which kept them off the radar.”
Gardai believe The Family now boast the best supply chain for heroin into the Irish market.
They have built strong connections across Eastern Europe where much of the heroin in the EU flows through from Asian markets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sources estimate the West Dublin mob has amassed a €100million fortune in the past five years.
It is suspected they smuggle shipments of cash out of the country in batches of millions at a time and launder it through criminal networks. However, the shutdown of travel in the pandemic has made the smuggling routes much more precarious.
It is understood The Family has also invested in front businesses and properties in Ireland.
Last year, CAB raided a number of businesses in one of the first crackdowns on the gang. Asst Commissioner O’Driscoll said seizing cash will ultimately save lives on the streets.
He added: “On addressing threat-to- life incidents, we’ve intervened on 75 occasions since the incident at the Regency Hotel. 138208672551
“But this is a particularly significant operation. It is an ongoing investigation and other arrests may arise. It is another success in addition to other successes recently.”
The gang first came to the attention of gardai in 2016 when CAB officers seized dozens of high-powered cars, jewellery and another €1.2million in cash from the mob.
A total of 46 vehicles were impounded at the time along with four watches with a value of €35,000.