Tagging along Tyrone GAA star on cocaine and laundering rap pictured playing with electronic tag on his leg
Loughran’s club had to ask the GAA for special permission to allow him to play
By Steven Moore
October 03 2021 02:30 AM
An All-Ireland-winning Gaelic footballer on bail charged with importing millions of pounds of cocaine is back playing with an electronic tag on his leg.
Peter Loughran stripped out for Errigal Ciaran thirds two weeks ago in the Tyrone Junior Championship.
It’s understood his club had to ask for special permission from the GAA for him to be allowed to wear the plastic ankle tag during a match.
The 46-year-old was released on bail last October after he was arrested earlier last year and charged with drug and money laundering offences.
Part of the bail conditions included a curfew stating when he had to be at his agreed bail address, hence the electronic tag.
Loughran, who was part of the Tyrone squad that won the county’s first ever All-Ireland football title in 2003, is accused of importing millions of pounds of cocaine and cannabis into Northern Ireland and laundering huge amounts of criminal money.
But he was back playing for his hometown club and helped them reach the second round of the championship with a comfortable 1-12 to 0-7 victory against Coalisland IIIs.
“He had the tag under his sock so you couldn’t see it but you could still make it out,” said a club source.
“Peter has been welcomed back into the fold, all anyone cares about is whether he’s good enough to be on the pitch and he clearly still is.”
He was arrested in July 2020 as part of Operation Venetic which has seen dozens of alleged criminals appear in court after a global law enforcement operation saw phones used by alleged criminals hacked by the authorities.
Loughran was refused bail on a number of occasions but after spending three months behind bars he was freed when a High Court judge agreed he could be released if relatives put forward a £30,000 cash surety.
During that hearing the court was told Loughran allegedly had up to £350,000 transferred into a bank in Dubai.
A prosecution barrister claimed that sums were moved to an account Peter Loughran held in the United Arab Emirates before being used to buy property back in Northern Ireland.
The barrister contended: “It’s essentially the definition of money laundering.”
The alleged financial activity was disclosed as Loughran was granted bail on drugs charges connected to a National Crime Agency offensive targeting gangs using encrypted mobile phones.
He’s accused of eight offences, including conspiracy to possess and being concerned in the supply of cocaine and herbal cannabis.
He is also charged with drugs importation and conspiracy to transfer and convert criminal property – namely cash.
The alleged offences were committed on dates between March and June last year.
He was arrested as part of Operation Venetic, the UK’s biggest law enforcement crackdown on organised criminality.
More than 20 people are facing prosecution in Northern Ireland, including up to eight other defendants already released from custody.
As Loughran mounted a fresh application for bail, the court heard police have identified up to £350,000 allegedly going into his bank account in Dubai.
Mr Justice Huddleston was told it was later used for the purchase of property back in Northern Ireland.
According to defence counsel new information has confirmed those sums are no longer available to his client – ending any concerns he could use it to sustain him if released.
“We now know the money was spent,” Michael Chambers said.
“The applicant has a zero balance on the account in the UAE, he can’t interfere with any money.”
But Mr Steer contended that Loughran should be treated differently to others identified in the investigation.
“We don’t have evidence in other cases of these large sums being moved in this complex network involving other countries,” he said.
Contrasting Loughran’s salary with the level of alleged bank deposits, the prosecutor argued: “It simply doesn’t add up.”
Bail was granted and Mr Justice Huddleston imposed a curfew, ordering the defendant to surrender any passports and banned him from leaving Northern Ireland.