Gardai take on the Wicklow Businessman???

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Pubs searched as cash, drugs and guns seized as CAB turn up heat on ‘The Businessman’

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December 14 2021 07:49 PM

A number of pubs were among 16 properties searched this morning as part of a major Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) investigation into a gang led by a shadowy criminal known as ‘The Businessman’.

As part of the operation officers arrested a 30-year-close associate of ‘The Businessman’ after finding cocaine with an estimated value of €9,800, cannabis herb with an estimated value of €900, lidocaine with an estimated value of €50 and steroids worth around €100 at a property linked to him.

“This associate is a trusted member of the criminal organisation and a main player in the mid-Wicklow area in terms of drug dealing,” a senior source said.

The henchman was released without charge this afternoon after being questioned for a number of hours at Wicklow Garda Station under drugs trafficking legislation and gardaí said a file will be prepared for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

‘The Businessman’, who is aged in his late 40s was present for the CAB raids on a number of his properties but was not arrested in the operation which involved armed gardaí and had been planned for months.

“This search operation marks a significant development in the CAB investigation into the assets and activities of an individual believed to be involved in organised criminal activity,” a Garda spokesman said in a statement.

Other items confiscated include two airsoft rifles, €9,100 in cash, documentation in relation to financial accounts and property ownership, mobile phones and electronic storage devices.

“Analysis of these devices may provide crucial information in terms of the ongoing wider investigation into this criminal who is suspected of being involved in serious organised crime for two decades,” a senior source said.

The Wicklow-based criminal nicknamed ‘The Businessman’ has a huge property portfolio and previously had links to the Continuity IRA – a dissident Republican organisation which has become a lot weaker in recent years.

His associates are suspected of having an “active involvement” in the unsolved gangland murder of 32-year-old Philip ‘Philly’ O’Toole, who was shot dead in January 2013.

‘The Businessman’ is also suspected of ordering the theft of 29 firearms in Wicklow in September 2012, and sources said he has a major influence on the “drug dealing scene” ranging from Dún Laoghaire in south Dublin to Gorey, Co Wexford, in the south-east and also into the midlands.

His gang are also suspected of placing a pipe bomb under the car of brave rape victim Fiona Doyle in April 2015. Shortly after this incident, the gang were involved in planting a pipe bomb at a Co Wicklow pub as part of an unrelated dispute.

In August 2014, they were suspected of burning out a car owned by a Garda sergeant as he played in a football match.

However, the mob have not been linked to any high-profile violent incidents in recent years and sources say that property transactions and “displays of wealth” have led to the major Garda operation that took place today.

“Gardaí believe that he is still very active in a controlling role in Leinster – evidence gathered today will establish just how active he is,” a senior source said.

“The belief is that he is still a significant player in terms of drugs distribution on the east coast and the hope is that these searches will disrupt his organisation,” the source added.

Announcing details of the raids, gardaí said that CAB were backed up for the 16 searches in Co Wicklow “with the assistance of the Garda Emergency Response Unit (ERU), the Garda Dog Unit and the Customs Revenue Dog Unit.”

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