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Top member of gang raided by CAB owns stake in champion racehorse

Top member of gang raided by CAB owns stake in champion racehorse

A leading member of a criminal gang raided by the Criminal Assets Bureau part-owns a racehorse that recently won a prestigious Grade One race.

Officers from CAB are probing a mob that is suspected of laundering its profits from drug trafficking and armed robberies by buying racehorses.

One of the horses involved recently won a major prize in a Grade One national hunt race.

The horse was purchased for a six-figure sum as a yearling but after an unspectacular start to its career, the horse was sold last summer to its current owners for a fraction of the original cost and switched to a different stable.

After a quiet start to its new career, the horse rewarded the owners' confidence by landing the spoils in the prestigious race. The gamble brought off by the win of the racehorse at the centre of the current investigation is understood to have badly hit bookies in three counties, in particular.

Members of the bureau believe that some of those involved in the purchase, training and ownership of the horse were not aware of the alleged money-laundering operation and had innocently taken part in the enterprise.

But the main target of the bureau investigation is well-known to gardai and is a key figure on the radar of the garda drugs and organised crime bureau.

He is suspected of being a leading player in a west Dublin-based organised crime gang, which has had links in the past to the Hutch faction.

Originally from Lucan, west Dublin, he is currently living on the Kildare-Dublin border.

He had been linked in the past to a high-profile cash heist but was not convicted in relation to that robbery.

In his early 30s, the target is part of a new breed of emerging criminals who have been using their profits from drugs and robberies to fund their lavish lifestyles, purchasing high-end cars and expensive jewellery as well as racehorses.

The Criminal Assets Bureau are focusing on this new generation of up-and-coming gangsters.

The bureau's aim is to hit the group, who are already very active, and seize their assets before they graduate from the second to the top-tier of the crime league.

Senior bureau officers believe now is the time to tackle the thugs financially before they can become role models for other aspiring criminals in their neighbourhoods.

"We are targeting these lads before they get the opportunities to become very big players and be part of the new breed of major criminals", one officer said.

During their inquiries, bureau members, backed up by several garda units, searched a dozen houses and business premises and seized large amounts of financial documentation and computers.

Also seized were a luxury e-class Mercedes 250 diesel, a small quantity of drugs and drugs equipment. Gardai also visited a horse racing stables and the home of a horse dealer.

No arrests were made following the searches and seizures but officers said the investigation would continue in the coming weeks.