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Armed gardaí raid home of mob boss Maguire over cash linked to Robbie Lawlor murder

Two arrested gangsters being grilled about €50,000 ‘blood money’ in laundering probe

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A forensics officer at the scene where Robbie Lawlor (inset) was executed in Belfast last April

A forensics officer at the scene where Robbie Lawlor (inset) was executed in Belfast last April

A forensics officer at the scene where Robbie Lawlor (inset) was executed in Belfast last April

Armed gardaí have raided the home of gang boss Owen Maguire as part of a massive money laundering investigation linked to the murder of gangland hitman Robbie Lawlor.

Two men, including a very close associate of Maguire, were in custody last night at Portlaoise garda station, being grilled about a €50,000 cash handover that happened on the afternoon of April 6 at a service station off the M7 motorway near Portarlington.

A large number of mobile phones and SIM cards were seized in the raid at the home of Maguire at Cement Road, Drogheda, Co Louth, and at another address in the town.

Officers from Co Laois, backed up by the Armed Support Unit, carried out the operation which started at 7.30am yesterday.

“These are key members of the Maguire gang who have been identified as travelling to Co Laois to hand over the cash to two women two days after the murder of Robbie Lawlor,” a senior source said.

“Everything has been caught on CCTV, as well as other motorway cameras.”

One of those arrested is a 21-year-old ‘gofer’ for the mob who is currently on bail facing violent disorder charges, while the other suspect, who is older, is one of Maguire’s most trusted associates.

Gardaí believe criminals linked to paralysed mob boss Maguire – who Lawlor is suspected of maiming in a gun attack in July 2018 – are the chief suspects for the murder of the serial killer in Belfast on April 4.

Just two days after the gun murder, gardaí arrested two women with close links to Limerick’s McCarthy-Dundon gang after members of the Maguire mob travelled from Drogheda to Co Laois to hand over the Lawlor ‘blood money’.

A massive investigation into the handover and cash seizure has continued for months, leading to yesterday’s search and arrest operation.

“This garda operation had been planned for weeks and it is hoped that mobile phone data from the seized SIM cards will provide more information as to the actual mechanics of the murder of Robbie Lawlor and the links to the Maguire gang,” a senior source told the Herald.

Maguire is not one of the two men in custody last night being questioned about money laundering.

The Limerick women who were originally arrested about the cash seizure were released without charge after 24 hours in custody.

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Mob boss Owen Maguire whose home was raided

Mob boss Owen Maguire whose home was raided

Mob boss Owen Maguire whose home was raided

The seized €50,000, was paid to the Limerick mob by the Maguire crime faction in Limerick for their involvement in Lawlor’s murder.

Gardaí previously told sources the women, aged in their 20s and 30s, could be prosecuted for murder if it can be proven to have come from the gang who ordered the fatal shooting.

The younger woman is well known to gardaí for offences linked to intimidation and the older woman is known to officers for her involvement with serious criminals.

The investigation into the murder of Robbie Lawlor is being conducted by the PSNI and there have been five arrests in the case – including gangster Ger Dundon and a teenage associate of the currently jailed thug. Nobody has been charged.

Another of those arrested for the gangland hit is Warren Crossan (28), who was shot dead outside his mother’s home in west Belfast less than three months later.

Crossan was accused of providing the killers’ getaway car – an allegation he strongly denied. However, the dad-of-one’s pleas fell on deaf ears, and he was shot six times in a suspected revenge attack in June. It emerged earlier that month that Lawlor was murdered during an appointment arranged while exchanging cash in a supermarket car park. The details emerged as a man, on bail for the killing, failed in an attempt to have a curfew lifted at Belfast Magistrates Court.

The suspect (36) has not been charged with any offences connected to the murder, but a detective told the court the man was believed to have met Lawlor in a Tesco car park in Crumlin, Co Antrim, the day before the shooting.

“Robert Lawlor did attend that appointment, and when he arrived he was met by a gunman who exited [the address] and shot him dead in broad daylight,” a detective told the court.

“This murder is directly linked to a feud between several organised crime gangs originating out of the Republic.

“It’s a comprehensive and complex investigation, with numerous links to organised crime gangs.”

Meanwhile the situation in the Drogheda feud has remained relatively calm since the murder of Lawlor, who was the chief suspect in the feud-related murder of Keane Mulready Woods in January.

Last week the Herald revealed that a 32-year-old criminal who is heavily involved in the feud is one of a number of people in jail in the UK facing serious charges in relation to the kidnapping of two men.

It previously emerged that gang boss Cornelius Price and his dangerous sidekick Ger Dundon were arrested as part of the major investigation.

Mark Kavanagh (32), who is a close associate of the Maguire faction, is one of six people charged as part of the probe.

Herald