An Irish drug ring accused of smuggling cocaine into Australia has been exposed after an international investigation.
Five men and one woman were arrested by armed police last week in a raid on a north Dublin apartment where €250,000 ($400,000) was found stashed under a mattress.
They were believed to be part of a gang – reportedly backed by Ireland’s notorious Kinahan cartel – which has allegedly been selling millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine in Australia and laundering the profits back in Ireland.
Operation: Five men and one woman were arrested last week in an armed police raid on a north Dublin apartment where €250,000 ($400,000) was found stashed under a mattress (pictured)
Seizure: Police believe that the cash (pictured) which was seized on Tuesday is the proceeds of drugs trafficking in Australia
An Irish drug ring accused of smuggling cocaine into Australia has been exposed after an international investigation (stock image of Irish national police in Dublin)
Irish police have been investigating the gang with the support of the Australian Federal Police and New Zealand police since 2016.
Four alleged smugglers were previously arrested in Perth, Darwin, Sydney and Christchurch, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
A spokesman for An Garda Siochana, Ireland’s national police, said: ‘It is suspected that this organised crime group has been engaged in this activity for a number of years prior to being identified in 2016.’
In 2014, Ian Padraig O’Heaire, from Dublin, was arrested at Perth Airport after suffering seizures on a long-haul flight when some of the 27 balloons of cocaine in his stomach burst.
The mule was supposed to deliver the drugs to a dealer in a Perth pub but was sent home and jailed for four years and six months for trafficking. Police did not confirm if the arrest was related to the Kinahan cartel.
The gang in question is reportedly backed by Ireland’s notorious Kinahan cartel. Pictured: The head of the Kinahan cartel, Christy Kinahan, who is living in exile in Dubai
It is thought the gang targeted Australia because cocaine is up to five times more expensive here than in Ireland.
A police source told Irish newspaper The Herald: ‘This criminal organisation has been taking advantage of the fact that thousands of Irish people are working in Australia and there is a big market for cocaine among some of these people.
‘Gardai are satisfied that the cash which was seized on Tuesday is the proceeds of drugs trafficking in Australia.’
The source added: ‘Trusted people involved in the criminal network travelled from Dublin to Australia to oversee the drug-dealing operation out there.
‘The profits made from the enterprise have then been brought back to Dublin.’
Detailing how the gang’s operation worked, a source told Extra.ie that the gang arranged shipments from South America to Australia.
‘Then Irish lads were dispatched over there, met the drugs, and set up dealing operations,’ the source said. ‘The cash was being sent back to Ireland and then being laundered.’
Those arrested in Tuesday’s north Dublin raids have been released without charge.
Irish police have arrested nine people in connection with the operation since January.
Ian Padraig O’Heaire, from Dublin, was arrested at Perth Airport (pictured) in 2014 after suffering seizures on a long-haul flight when some of the 27 balloons of cocaine in his stomach burst