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Luxury watches worth €152k owned by Kinahan cartel bagmen to be sold by CAB

The watches were seized in follow-up searches after Reed and Rooney were arrested handling €400,000 cash

Thomas Maher
Thomas Maher
Jason Reed
Jason Reed
Thomas Rooney
Thomas Rooney

Yesterday at 19:40

Watches worth €152,000 owned by Kinahan cartel bagmen can be sold off by the Criminal Assets Bureau after being deemed the proceeds of crime.

Both Jason Reed and Thomas Rooney, described as trusted members of a transnational gang, are serving sentences for money-laundering in the Midlands Prison.

The watches were seized in follow-up searches after Reed and Rooney were arrested handling €400,000 cash as a garda surveillance team watched their every move.

The application by the Criminal Assets Bureau to have a receiver appointed to sell off the high-end watches went unopposed in court today.

In Reed’s case seven watches were found with a value of €62,000 along with €18,000 in cash at his home.

Another seven watches found belonged to Rooney were valued as being worth €90,000 who Judge Alex Owens said today had “insufficient income” to have got them legitimately.

The judge added, having read through the evidence, it was apparent all the watches were “a means of money-laundering” and a way of holding wealth.

He said there was no honest explanation for how the watches were paid for as well as a mobile home belonging to Reed which was paid for in cash.

They were previously convicted at the Special Criminal Court with Reed getting seven years and Rooney six after they were caught transporting €400,000 of cash.

Both had been part of the criminal network run by rogue haulier Thomas Maher from Clara who is currently serving a 14-year-sentence in the United Kingdom.

Thomas Rooney
Thomas Rooney

His network was busted thanks to the infiltration of the EncroChat encrypted messaging service which had been widely used by organised crime gangs.

Reed, from Dunshaughlin, who had no previous criminal record and who had not paid PRSI since 2008, was described in court as a trusted high-level member the cartel.

He pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court to money laundering and possessing the proceeds of crime relating to almost €400,000 in Drogheda in 2020.

Reed was arrested during a covert surveillance operation involving the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

He was the primary target of a money-laundering investigation as a “logistics and money man” for the Kinahan Cartel who would regularly travel between Ireland and Spain.

When Reed’s vehicle was seized and was found to have been fitted with a secret compartment between the rear seats to hide criminal proceeds.

This compartment was operated with a remote fob found in the car.

An encrypted phone and secret car compartment “fits with his role” in the organisation and that Reed “was at a very high level” in this investigation, according to a garda witness at his trial.

During Thomas Rooney’s trial it was heard how he met Reed at a car park with Reed putting a bag containing cash into a van being driven by Rooney’s then-partner Catherine Dawson.

Thomas Maher
Thomas Maher

Ms Dawson, who was driving a vehicle owned by her employers worked as a carer, which Rooney admitted to gardaí was less likely to be stopped during the Covid lockdown.

She received an entirely suspended sentence of three years and nine months for her part which Rooney said was his fault for getting her involved.

His limousine firm had collapsed during the pandemics and his defence counsel said he had been due to get €1,200 for his part in moving the cash.

Reed was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for what Judge Tony Hunt said was helping an international drug-trafficking gang “enjoy the fruits” of their criminal enterprise.

He said it was clear from the evidence that Reed was a trusted mid- to high-level member of the gang and that this offending was not a one-off.

The Sunday World previously revealed how gardaí investigated the criminal network along with the UK’s National Crime Agency following the cracking of EncroChat by law enforcement.

Reed is believed to have been working for Thomas Maher, who is now serving 14 years for his role in transporting cocaine from Holland to Ireland via the UK and laundering cash.

The joint investigation found that Maher had arranged for the movement of cash out of Ireland which was vacuum-packed when discovered here.

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