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Dublin: 18 °C Friday 19 April, 2019
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Gardaí believe woman is using a national supermarket chain she works at to launder heroin cash

The woman is believed to be under orders from a heroin gang operating in the capital.

Image: Shutterstock/Radu Bercan

THE CRIMINAL ASSETS Bureau along with gardaí attached to a Dublin drugs units are investigating a branch of a well-known supermarket chain which officers believe is being used by one of its staff to launder drug money, TheJournal.ie has learned.

The shop, located in Dublin city, is a focus for officers investigating how a drug gang is laundering its money. A close associate of the gang works in the shop and is believed to be changing out cash garnered from drug deals and changing it into €50 notes.

While this is being done on a relatively small scale, officers believe that the woman has been doing this for over 18 months and has potentially laundered thousands of euro worth of drug money.

The gang is physically moving the money from Dublin to Eastern Europe. Most of it is smuggled through our airports. Moving the money is made a lot easier if the smaller bills are changed into €50 notes.

The cash is then brought out of the country and lodged in various banks across Eastern Europe.

The gang uses small scale operations rather than opening official businesses to move their money. Officers believe this is being done to limit the gang’s exposure to CAB investigations if one of their laundry methods is detected.

Gardaí believe the employee has been doing this for over a year. The woman is the partner of a major heroin dealer in the city and are a person of interest for CAB in relation to another matter.

CAB is also looking into a family member of the employee, who works as a part-time cleaner and who received €30,000 into her bank account recently.

Gardaí are aware of a number of different ways the gang is moving the money out of the jurisdiction.

Lithuanian

The Lithuanian gang is run by two men, who are originally from the Kaunas and Plunge areas of the Eastern European country. They arrived into Ireland over a decade ago, one having murdered the gang’s top boss in Belfast and effectively taking control of the enterprise.

Over the last decade, this gang has moved from wholesale heroin dealing and has started operating in the prostitution trade.

As of now, gardaí believe this gang is operational in Cork, Waterford, Dublin, Kerry, Galway and Belfast.

Several garda units, including those who specialise in human trafficking investigations, are aware of this drugs gang. It is understood a high number of young Lithuanian men and women have been forced into criminality by the gang.

Its modus operandi for recruiting new members is to promise young and poor people from Eastern Europe that they will get legitimate jobs when they arrive into Ireland. But when they do get here, their passports are taken from them and they are forced into either the drug or sex trade, depending on their gender.

In fact, gardaí believe that a teenager who only arrived into the country in the last three months may have been the person to carry out an acid attack on a garda who is investigating the workings of this gang.

Criminal gangs often attempt to move their money through unsuspecting and legitimate businesses to ward off the suspicions of the authorities.

Hotel chain

Earlier this year, we reported that an international hotel chain was cooperating with international police forces, as well as the Criminal Assets Bureau over allegations that it may have unwittingly accepted drug money from Irish criminals as an investment in new properties.

Gardaí are working with their Lithuanian counterparts who are well aware of the criminal past of the top two in the gang. Intelligence is constantly being shared between the two countries. The PSNI is also kept up-to-date due to the gang’s connection to Belfast.

A number of Criminal Assets Bureau investigations – as well as Revenue probes – are also ongoing.

Gardaí believe they know who the gang’s drug supplier is and a number of potential fronts for washing drug money are also being probed by gardaí.

Investigations into the dealers are ongoing.

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