Drug cartel | 

Garda tells Lithuanian court ‘The Russians’ gang flooded Ireland with heroin and cocaine

Those who worked for the gang say they were tricked into travelling to Ireland with promises of jobs only to be forced to work as slaves in the drugs trade

Kestutis Klemauskas arrested in Lithuania in 2020

Alan SherrySunday World

A Garda Sergeant has given evidence to a Lithuanian court about the alleged leader of an Eastern European Organised Crime group which flooded Ireland with heroin, cocaine and other drugs using a network of “slave” dealers.

Lithuanian national Kestutis Klemauskas (38) is alleged to have headed up a gang dubbed ‘The Russians’ who forced dozens of vulnerable people to work for them selling drugs in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Many of those who worked for the gang say they were tricked into travelling to Ireland from Lithuania with the promises of legitimate jobs only to be forced to work as slaves in the drugs trade.

Klemauskas, who lived in Ireland for a number of years but left after being targeted by gardai, was arrested in Lithuania in 2020 at the same time as raids took place in Ireland as part of a co-ordinated operation which involved Gardai and the PSNI.

A total of 18 people were arrested across Ireland and Lithuania as part of the operation.

While a wider investigation into the gang is ongoing and is at the pre-trial investigation stage, Klemauskas appeared in court in Lithuania two weeks ago on drugs charges.

Det Sgt Martin Mahon gave evidence by videolink from the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin to Klaipeda District Court in relation to Klemauskas and his activities in Dublin.

Lithuanian media outlet Lrytas said Det Sgt Mahon gave evidence that when Klemauskas was living in Ireland he had been the target of a surveillance operation by gardai which led to the recovery of drugs at Waterville Park in Blanchardstown in August 2020.

“Colleagues from Lithuania informed us when a shipment of drugs would be brought to Waterville Park and left there. Kestutis Klemauskas appeared here on the specified day. We were waiting for him, carefully watching how he behaved. The suburban park is large, drowning in greenery — the man disappeared in the darkness. Then he emerged again at the gate of the park, got into the car and drove off,” Sergeant Mahon said.

He said that gardai stopped Klemauskas when he left the park but did not find any drugs. Gardai returned the following day with sniffer dogs but were unable to locate any drugs.

However, Lithuanian police provided gardai with a detailed diagram of where the drugs might be hidden in the park and during a third search, they found four packs of cocaine valued at €21,000.

Authorities allege the drugs were brought there by Klemauskas who may have been helped by his partner Jurgita Rupeikiene.

The pair are accused of acquiring large amounts of drugs to be distributed in Ireland.

Gardai subsequently raided Klemauskas’ rented apartment in Dublin and found €1,000 in cash. He was not in the apartment when gardai raided it and is believed to have returned to Lithuania around this time because he was fearful he was under surveillance in Ireland.

However, he was arrested in Lithuania after around the same time.

Authorities allege that the gang laundered the money gained through the Irish operation back in Lithuania.

Lithuanian police found cash buried underground as part of the operation while real estate and investments including an auto-repair linked to Klemauskas were also seized along with a renovated house partially owned by his partner, a plot of land registered in her name as well as a relative’s apartment and a cottage which was rented out to tourists.

Today's Headlines

More Irish Crime

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos