OVER THE LAST decade, Irish criminals involved in drug trafficking have extended their reach across the world.
Not only have theses groups become more organised in Ireland, forcing gardaí to change their tactics to keep up, they are now forming connections that are far beyond the reach of the Irish authorities.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie this week, Chief Superintendent Michael O’Sullivan of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau described this evolution as “both interesting and disturbing”.
He said links are being established in remote parts of the world, in countries like Colombia, Bolivia and Afghanistan.
Criminal networks seem to have joined up from around the world.
Part of this shift relates to the large number of Irish criminals on the run in Spain over the years, particularly since the murder of Veronica Guerin.
“Lots fled the country and have met with other criminals – Eastern European criminals, Russian, Colombian, guys from the African subcontinent where they can get hash. It’s a melting pot.”
The last ten years has also seen an increase in the number of non-national organised crime groups in this country.
O’Sullivan said the relationship An Garda Síochána has with other police forces has enabled them to target and stop large shipments of drugs and to disrupt the flow of money.
“There’s a lot more cash around, a lot more criminals trying to come in under the radar, launder money, invest in drug deals, get back out of them. It has become a whole lot more sophisticated,” he explained.
“Criminals have changed the way they operate – we have to change and we have changed the way we operate in targeting them. So, we work hard with the Criminal Assets Bureau and financial profilers because the landscape of organised crime has just changed hugely.”