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Gang members who fled to Romania wanted in Ireland over boat thefts and credit card scams

It is believed the men are leaders of an organised crime group.

A file photo of Dublin Port.
A file photo of Dublin Port.
Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

AN ORGANISED CRIME gang from Romania is using stolen credit card details from south-east Asia to buy boat engines in the west of Ireland which are then shipped from Dublin Port to Eastern Europe where they are stripped and sold, TheJournal.ie has learned. 

The gang was allegedly operating across the country, carrying out their crimes using what security sources have described as a “relay system” – whereby men would enter the country for two weeks, attempt to commit fraud and theft, and then leave the jurisdiction. 

Gardaí, along with their counterparts in Europol, have been working to disrupt this gang’s operation which is thought to be worth millions of euro every year. 

The gang itself is also involved in the European drugs trade, as well as a number of other fraudulent activities. 

Gardaí became aware of their activities in the last three years after a garage was contacted by a credit card provider and informed them that a boat engine purchased recently was bought with stolen card details. 

Officers, especially in the Galway and Mayo regions, have been urging shop owners to beware of those willing to buy a number of boat engines on credit and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities. 

In one case, card details from a businessman in Singapore were used to buy thousands of euro worth of engines in Galway. 

Sources have told TheJournal.ie that the engines are brought back through Dublin Port and land in France and the Netherlands before being transported to eastern Europe. There they are stripped and then sold across the continent. 

Arrests

Gardaí had been monitoring the gang for a number of months before they arrested two men they believed to be the leaders. 

The men were arrested and charged with a number of sample charges of fraud and theft. Gardaí objected to bail for a number of reasons, including that the men were a flight risk. 

The suspects were bailed and were ordered to sign on in a garda station. They were also ordered to surrender their passports, which they did. 

It is understood that the men’s wives then travelled from Romania to bail them out. They paid with cash, which gardaí believe was the proceeds of crime.

The men were due to appear in court a number of weeks after they were bailed but they did not arrive. A bench warrant was issued for their arrest but gardaí believe they have fled the country. 

Their identities have been sent to Romanian police but there is little to no hope among gardaí that these men will be returned to Ireland to appear before court. 

It is believed that the men had been using EU identity cards which allowed them to travel with certain air carriers. 

Gardaí continue to liaise with their Romanian counterparts on the matter.

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