NewsCrime Desk

Al Qaeda led to Irish smuggler being nabbed

Crime DeskBy Nicola Tallant
Jim Duffy
Jim Duffy

Ireland’s biggest cigarette smuggler was nabbed by the Criminal Assets Bureau after the terror group Al Qaeda unwittingly attacked his contraband and set authorities on him.

James Duffy has just paid more than €300,000 to the Bureau after an investigation into his wealth – sparked when a ship carrying his Far Eastern cargo came under rocket attack in the Suez Canal. It is understood a second bill is on the way.

For years Duffy operated completely under the radar as a furniture shop owner from Dundalk, but he had close links to murdered fag smuggler Noel ‘Kingsize’ Duggan and ‘Slab’ Murphy and is understood to have made millions moving cigarettes through the country.

Duggan was shot dead in March by hitmen believed to be working for the Kinahan Cartel, due to his long-time friendship with Gerry ‘the Monk’ Hutch.

During the probe into Duffy’s wealth, the CAB uncovered a sophisticated system of company ID theft.

The Bureau launched a trawl of his finances after intelligence linked him to a cargo of nine million cigarettes that came under Al Qaeda rocket attack.

The terrorists fired two rockets at the Asia Cosco cargo ship as it made its way along Egypt’s Suez Canal.

They were hoping to disrupt trade in the area and even released a video of the attack.

When investigators discovered the illicit cigarettes on the damaged ship they fitted it with a tracking device.

The cigarettes were transferred to a vessel in Rotterdam which later docked in Dublin port. The Emergency Response Unit, the Organised Crime Unit, CAB and Customs watched as the container was loaded on to a truck and driven to Co. Louth, followed by a jeep.

The van was stopped at Castlebellingham and three men in the jeep, along with the driver, were arrested. Duffy was not at the scene, but a probe into the consignment linked it back to him.

Duffy has held directorship on a number of legitimate furniture companies, but officers believed he used them as a front for his operation.

Associates, including Duggan, are also believed to have hijacked VAT and registration details of perfectly innocent companies and used them to get their contraband through Irish ports.

Customs official with busted cigarettes 

It is understood CAB contacted retail stores around the country who had no idea their details were being used to clear imported goods from Vietnam and other Asian countries.

Last week Duffy received a four-year prison sentence, suspended for five years, after he pleaded guilty to possessing a stolen tractor at his farm at Balrothery West, Dublin, on September 17, 2013.

The court heard he had his henchmen steal the €50,000 vehicle from a Portlaoise company and remove the identification marks.