A criminal gang is suspected of paying a serving detective €20,000 in return for secret information on the progress of a CAB investigation into the gang’s money-laundering operation in Limerick.
The gang controls one of the biggest drug-trafficking operations in the west and is led by a criminal based in Newcastle West. The gang members are also involved in greyhound racing and were suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of the €1m champion greyhound Clares Rocket two years ago.
The officer at the centre of the enquiry, an experienced serious crime investigator, was arrested last month by colleagues attached to a specialist squad from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) on suspicion of taking corrupt payments from the gang.
He was released without charge pending a file being submitted to the DPP.
A second man, a civilian, was also arrested for questioning and later released.
Sources said it was believed the gang made the payment in return for access to classified information from a Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) investigation which is targeting the operation of a business in the city that is suspected of being used as a front to launder drug money.
Gardaí are also investigating if the gang got inside information from the investigation into the Clares Rocket theft in December 2016 – dubbed the Shergar incident of the dog world – when a ransom of €100,000 was reportedly demanded before the dog’s safe return to its owners.
Convicted drug-trafficker and gang boss Christy Keane was arrested while transporting the greyhound, which he claimed he had rescued from the thieves and was returning to its owners at the time.
The elite squad which investigates internal corruption and other criminal allegations against gardaí had the officer under surveillance for several months. It is understood that a large volume of evidence linking the officer to the gang and the notorious Rathkeale Rovers Traveller crime gang was uncovered prior to the arrest, including secret recordings of conversations between the garda and the criminal alleged to have paid the bribe, which is believed to have happened n December.
Sources have revealed that the garda’s alleged involvement with the criminal gang came to light when the CAB began targeting the gang’s money-laundering activities through the front company.
Suspicions were raised when it was discovered that some information from the investigation had leaked to the targeted gang and NBCI launched an enquiry with the support of the Garda Crime and Security section.
However, sources said that no information of a sensitive nature in the possession of the CAB got into the hands of the gang.
The officer who was arrested also featured in a connected corruption probe involving a second garda in the Limerick Division who was suspended from duty last October. That garda is suspected of supplying fraudulent documents and information, in return for payments, to the Rathkeale Rovers Traveller crime gang.
The garda detective is suspected of becoming involved with members of the gang through a shared interest in greyhound racing.
The gang member who was in contact with the garda was one of the suspects in the theft of Clares Rocket from its owner’s training yard on December 4, 2016. A €100,000 ransom was demanded from the owners, the Limerick Full House Syndicate by “a man with a mild Dublin accent”.
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