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mid-west gangs Limerick raids by gardaí and miltary led to arrest of six major underworld players in mid-west

'Fat’ John McCarthy was brought before the courts on a minor charge showing authorities are prepared to use anything against crime lords

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'Fat' John McCarthy has been brought back to court on contravention of local authority by-laws

'Fat' John McCarthy has been brought back to court on contravention of local authority by-laws

'Fat' John McCarthy has been brought back to court on contravention of local authority by-laws

Raids in Limerick targeting the four most significant gangs in the city led to the arrest of at least six of the most feared gangland figures in the mid west.

Key members and associates of the Keane, Collopy, Ryan and McCarthy gangs along with smaller outfits aligned to them were all targeted in the raids earlier this week involving more than 400 gardaí and military personnel.

Once sworn enemies, the groupings have been concentrating on business in recent years and transformed from warring factions to slick organised criminal gangs with money laundering wings and clean supply routes for drugs.

The release of senior members of a number of the gangs in recent times, along with a growing demand for cocaine and heroin, have led to fears that they are increasing their operations and levels of supply.

‘Fat’ John McCarthy, who has just finished what he served of a 14-year heroin sentence, has been brought back to court on contravention of local authority by-laws.

He once told a television documentary that prison was a ‘holiday camp’ and said he had no problem serving time. While keeping two unlicensed horses is a minor charge compared to what he has previously been accused of, it is part of a strategy to use everything available against the gangs.

Partnerships between the local gangs and international suppliers like the Byrne Organised Crime Gang and George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell’s supply chain mean gangs are flooding the mid west with cocaine, heroin and cannabis and getting filthy rich on the profits.

A slick money laundering system that didn’t exist during Limerick’s gang wars is also keeping a steady flow of cash into the hands of some of the most dangerous mobsters, most of whom are still occupying local authority homes in the estates which were the subject of huge funding.

McCarthy, along with his brother Eds, heads up one gang which was previously aligned to the notorious Dundon brothers but which works with Liam Byrne. Byrne took control of the Kinahan UK stronghold from his brother-in-law Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh, who is currently awaiting sentencing on drugs and money laundering offences in the UK.

Younger associates of the McCarthy brothers have been running operations in Limerick while Eds has been based in Birmingham and ‘Fat’ John was locked up. But he moved straight back to his base in Cliona Park after his release and was subject to raids on Thursday when gardaí from the Limerick division supported by the Defence Forces, Revenue and Customs and the Criminal Assets Bureau conducted their searches.

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Edward 'Eds' McCarthy

Edward 'Eds' McCarthy

Edward 'Eds' McCarthy

Already CAB have seized a number of houses in the area from Eds McCarthy, but the gang remains entrenched within the community and many are housed courtesy of the taxpayer.

Two key lieutenants of the McCarthy mob were arrested along with ‘Fat’ John and quizzed in relation to drug dealing activities. Both form part of a new generation of the gang who re-grouped after the massive crackdown which resulted in the end of the Dundon mob.

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Another arrest made was that of a senior member of the Ryan mob. The Ryan faction is made up of younger relatives and associates of Eddie Ryan Snr, whose murder in 2000 kicked off ten years of gang wars in the city.

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Gardai and customs checking cars in Moyross. Photograph: Press 22

Gardai and customs checking cars in Moyross. Photograph: Press 22

Gardai and customs checking cars in Moyross. Photograph: Press 22

Properties linked to the Ryans were searched and an ongoing CAB investigation will target monies and assets linked to them.

More than E550,000 in cash and money held in eight financial accounts along with ten horses, including a E50,000 stallion, horse boxes, flash cars, designer watches and drug dealing equipment was all seized.

Another criminal who is a senior member of the Collopy crime gang was arrested during the raids. It is understood that he is considered one of the biggest drug dealers in the mid west with a supply chain direct from Spain.

‘Fat’ John was remanded on bail until November 17.

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