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Dublin: 5°C Saturday 22 January 2022

Gardaí seize stolen artefacts in international operation targeting criminal gang

Local police forces in Britain and Northern Ireland also arrested 19 people after a number of searches earlier today in connection with the operation.

Image: Garda Press Office

GARDAÍ  HAVE SEIZED cash, artefacts and a large quantity of documents after a number of searches of residences in the Rathkeale and Raheen areas of Limerick and Cork.

The search operation is part of an ongoing investigation into the assets and financial affairs of an international criminal group. The gang is suspected of involvement in activities including labour exploitation, counterfeiting fraud, tarmac scams, tobacco smuggling and the theft of rhino horns and Chinese cultural artefacts.

The Criminal Assets Bureau has been involved in a Europol initiative which was set up in 2010, specifically to target the criminal activities of this one international group.

Since then there have been in excess of sixty documented thefts of rhino horns and rare Chinese cultural artefacts from museums and private collections throughout Europe with the value of the property stolen estimated to be in excess of €40 million. Just this year, a number of rhino heads and horns were taken from the National Museum Archive in Dublin.


Today a large quantity of documentation was seized, as well as a small amount of cash and a number of artifacts which will all form part of the ongoing investigation.

Local police forces also carried out over 30 searches throughout Britain and Northern Ireland today with 19 people arrested in connection with Chinese artefacts and rhinoceros horns that were stolen in five incidents.

Gardaí said the Criminal Assets Bureau will now continue to liaise with  international police colleagues via Europol.

imageAll images provided by the Garda Press Office.

Read: Rhino heads and horns stolen from Dublin museum archive>

Read: Stolen rhino horns were removed from exhibition ‘due to risk of theft’>

Read: Search for Ireland’s stolen paintings in Limerick as man arrested>

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