Irish Police and Interpol operations crush massive racket
The Irish news website thejournal.ie reported that Irish police (Gardaí) have dismantled a Lithuanian criminal gang responsible for heroin smuggling and people trafficking across the island. Now all that remains of the gang are pockets of heroin dealing in rural areas. The network, headed by a high-ranking member of the Lithuanian mafia, is now operating at a fraction of what it once did. Police, which had been battling the gang since 2015, along with its colleagues in Europol, carried out a massive operation last year which resulted in 20 arrests as well as deportations. The gang is still active – although on a far lesser scale.
Instead of millions worth of drugs being shipped into Dublin and Rosslare, the dealers are being left to feed off scraps, having to contend with receiving drugs supplied to them by other criminal gangs. At its peak, the Lithuanian mafia gang was responsible for the importation of millions of euro worth of heroin into Ireland. However, it was not only drugs that they dealt in.
The gang would bring in young, vulnerable people from Lithuania with the promise of work. However, upon arrival, they would be forced to sell heroin. Women brought across were used in forced prostitution. Members of the same gang are the chief suspects in an acid attack on an Gardaí member in 2018. What was once a sophisticated network of drugs, weapons and people smuggling has been reduced to a ragtag group struggling to hang on to any semblance of power.
While two of the main leaders in Ireland managed to avoid arrest, they are understood to have fled the jurisdiction in recent months. The majority of the mafia’s mid- to low-level members have also left Ireland. Those who remained have done so because “they have set up their lives here”, according to thejournal.ie. Investigations into the gang’s activities are still ongoing, however. Covid has helped matters as large checkpoints set up to make sure Level 5 restrictions were being kept resulted in significant seizures.
Proceeds from the drug trade were funnelled mostly into property where it was laundered. A significant probe into Irish, as well as UK and European properties, continues to be undertaken by international police forces. Irish police is currently assisting their European counterparts with these investigations, and now believe they are in the “clean-up” stage of the investigation. This means that while the gang’s influence and power may be wiped out, there are still pockets of guns and drugs they have not found. Officers believe that those gang members who remained in Ireland are now selling off the last of their drugs and weapons for cash. NOW
The Criminal Assets Bureau continues to monitor these seemingly low-level dealers. Local asset profilers are targeting the mid-level gangland figures and asking them to prove how they can afford their lifestyles. Many of those who were trafficked by this organized crime gang have either returned to Lithuania or are in the custody of Europol and Gardaí, which is now turning its attention to the groups which have taken over the Lithuanian territory.
With news from LRT.lt, thejournal.ie