DIRTY CASH |
CAB target George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell’s money laundering network as two bagmen jailed
Patrick Lawlor was sentenced to seven years while Ross Hanway was given four
14th October 2022
A man who was the main money launderer for international drugs baron George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell and was jailed for seven years this week is the focus of an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab).
Patrick Lawlor (56) was jailed for seven years on Wednesday after he admitted possession of nearly €500,000 in cash, which was the proceeds of crime, at his home in north Dublin home on May 26, 2000.
His close associate Ross Hanway (32) pleaded guilty to possessing €412,000 on the same date at his home in Ashbourne, Co Meath.
Lawlor is also a target of CAB, which seized a top-of-the range car and froze money in bank accounts connected to that investigation in May last year.
Hanway and Lawlor were arrested following a lengthy garda surveillance operation into the long-running operations of Mitchell’s gang.
Mitchell (71), who is based in Germany, is one of Ireland’s most notorious drug traffickers.
From Ballyfermot, he is believed to have become a millionaire due to his involvement in drug trafficking from the early 1990s to the present.
He has connections with the Kinahan cartel and also had links to Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch.
After the Regency Hotel bloodbath in February 2016, it is understood he made it clear to both factions he did not want to be dragged in to their feud, which has claimed 18 lives to date.
Mitchell is believed to have moved between Holland, Germany and Spain for a number of years, and is suspected of having organised huge shipments of drugs including heroin and cannabis into Ireland and other countries.
At the sentencing hearing at Dublin Circuit Court on Wednesday, evidence was given that Hanway and Lawlor had been laundering money for a gang that had an income of nearly €12m in 2019.
While Mitchell was not mentioned by name during the proceedings, it was previously confirmed the Cab operation was targeting his organisation. Details of how the gang operate were revealed in court.
Lawlor received monthly cash payments of €5,000 from the transnational organisation while Hanway was initially paid €1,250, which rose to €4,000 by 2019.
Lawlor, who worked as a labourer, was recruited by Mitchell because he was regarded as an “unknown” with no previous convictions.
With Lawlor pleading guilty to possession of an encrypted mobile phone, previous evidence from Detective Garda Ronan Doolan revealed that the gang, which has operations in and outside the State, spent more than €98,000 on encrypted mobile devices during 2019.
When Hanway and Lawlor were arrested in Hanway’s taxi, both had Android mobile phones and dual-partition encrypted phones.
Det Gda Doolan said the encrypted phones are used by criminals to communicate with each other. He added that such phones have a “dummy screen” that looks like an ordinary phone, until the user opens a certain app – the calculator, for example – and a different screen loads once a code is entered.
Mitchell’s organisation is one of the longest-established drug-trafficking networks in the history of the State.
In the 1980s he had links to major criminals including John Gilligan and murdered gang boss Martin ‘The General’ Cahill.
Mitchell, who fled Ireland because of the garda crackdown on gangland figures following the murder of Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996, has never been targeted in a shooting.
He arrived first in Amsterdam where he had built up relationships with Dutch drug suppliers.
Mitchell became notorious in Ireland’s criminal under- world after setting up a massive ecstasy processing plant here nearly 30 years ago.
Around that time, he was arrested by English police near Luton and found to be in possession of £575,000 in cash, which was a down payment for a shipment of drugs.
The money was seized, but Mitchell was released without charge and has never served any serious prison sentence.
In August, he failed to attend the funeral of his sister, Margaret, in Ballyfermot.
He was also a no-show at the funeral of his brother and close criminal associate, Paddy, in 2020.
Sources said he did not attend because he feared attention from gardaí and the media.
Despite his wealth, Mitchell lives a low-key existence while moving regularly around Europe.