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Ex-Dublin Airport cop Mark Adams jailed for money laundering worked for shadowy gangland banker

Adams had spent years moving money around for criminal gangs while purporting to be working on modelling assignments

Neil Fetherstonhaugh and Nicola Tallant

Ex-male model and former Dublin Airport policeman Mark Adams who was jailed for 20 months yesterday was working for a shadowy gangland banker, the Sunday World can reveal.

Adams (42), from Malahide, had been caught with more than €180,000 after he was stopped at Belfast International Airport before boarding a flight to Alicante in May 2018.

Border Force officials discovered the money in two folders in his hand luggage that had been disguised to look like they contained legally privileged documentation.

Adams had initially claimed he was going to a wedding, but later checks by NCA investigators showed he was booked on a return flight just 80 minutes after he was due to touch down in Spain.

Adams, who had formally left his police job in February 2017 after a two-year career break, had taken nearly 500 flights into or out of the UK in the preceding five years, often returning shortly after landing at his destination, further inquiries revealed.

Having pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, a judge at Antrim Crown Court yesterday sentenced him on May 5 to 20 months in prison.

The Sunday World previously revealed how Adams was recruited to work for the well-known money launderer who has been on the Garda radar for decades and who is suspected of operating a banking system for criminal gangs, transferring drug cash in and out of the country and advising crooks on how to wash and move their dirty money.

Mark Adams is approached by our man Patrick O’Connell

Gardai believe that Adams was working for the wealthy old timer, who lives with his wife in a respectable Dublin suburb and claims to have made his money through investments in pubs and textiles.

A Garda investigation found that Adams only earned €4,000 for seven modelling jobs over a five-year period from 2007.

Between January 2012 and March 2017 they traced €604,400 cash lodgements to three accounts held by him. In 2015, he was caught at Dublin Airport as he attempted to board a flight to Belgium with €582,045 in his luggage.

Over the previous year, while on a career break from his job with airport police, he had booked a staggering 253 flights with airlines but made no comment about the money when asked about the source of it.

Adams had spent years moving money around for criminal gangs while purporting to be working on modelling assignments. He enjoyed countless sun holidays and even posed for pictures looking tanned and relaxed, despite later claiming that he was forced into couriering money because of a debt he owed.

In January of this year, Adams told a court in Northern Ireland that he was “under pressure from more sinister elements” when he was nabbed with the €180,000 of criminal cash in Belfast International Airport in 2018.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued when he was initially released on bail after his arrest but failed to return.

Irish authorities charged him with four counts of money laundering, including one which saw him accused of trying to smuggle €500,000 out of Dublin Airport in 2015.

He was later sentenced to five years in prison by an Irish court.

While he was still serving his sentence, he was transported by the gardai to the border just south of Newry where he was picked up by NCA officers in In August 2021.

He was then taken to Antrim Magistrates to be charged for the offence he had committed in Northern Ireland.

His defence counsel Eugene McKenna had said there were significant addictions to gambling and drugs that led to him getting into significant debt “that he was obliged to address by acting as a courier under pressure from more sinister elements."

Despite his claims that he was a victim of crime, gardaí believe Adams lived the high life while travelling the world transporting drug money.

The father of one gave up his job in airport police so he could jet set across Europe, often taking lengthy holidays and staying in top hotels.

Adams searched for love and fame when he appeared on a RTE dating show and even tried to get on Big Brother. In 2010, the Malahide-native had a starring role in the TV series One Night Stand.

He was among a group of bachelors lined up to meet a trio of former Rose of Tralee beauties.

"I don't know what to expect but I hope the girls won't be too cruel," he said back in 2010. "I suppose it's too late to back out now. I think it's a bit of a laugh and I'm single so I might as well try."

In court Adams portrayed his life as anything but glamorous, claiming he was dependent on drugs.

When asked about the cash in his luggage in Dublin he told Sunday World: "If I tell you I am a dead man, even if I don't tell you I am a dead man anyway."

Commenting on the case, NCA Belfast Branch Commander David Cunningham said: “Mark Adams was clearly a serial money launderer on both sides of the Irish border, and as a former policeman he would have been well aware that what he was doing was wrong.

“Working with our Irish colleagues we were able to spot a pattern of him regularly traveling out of airports in both the Republic and UK, and returning home shortly afterwards.”

He said the sheer amount of flights taken by Adams indicated that he may have been responsible for laundering many millions of criminal money.

“Working with our law enforcement colleagues on both sides of the border we are determined to do all we can to disrupt the flow of illicit cash, and prevent organised criminals laundering their profits,” he said.

Darren Brabon, Interim Assistant Director for Northern Ireland Border Force Command said: “Clamping down on the export of undeclared cash from the UK is vital in our fight against organised criminal gangs.

“The sentence handed down to Adams today is the result of hard work and dedication from Border Force, the NCA and our partners in the Republic of Ireland to tackle dirty money.

“Those involved can be proud of their work and particularly those officers that intercepted and stopped Adams in his tracks.”

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