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House raid Prolific smuggler Aidan Grew's property empire targeted by Criminal Assets Bureau

Hard man Grew, who is at the top of a pile of Republicans who control the contraband cigarette supply into Ireland, has been hit with a proceeds-of-crime case


Border smuggler Aiden Grew.

Border smuggler Aiden Grew.

Border smuggler Aiden Grew.

One of Ireland’s top smugglers has been busy building up an extensive property portfolio of development lands near the Border area, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) believe.

Hard man Aidan Grew, who is at the top of a pile of Republicans who control the contraband cigarette supply into Ireland, has been hit with a proceeds-of-crime case.

Grew, his wife Nuala and a property company known as ANG Property Limited, which applied for a branch office in Ireland in 2015 but has yet to file accounts, are named as respondents in the case.

The Sunday World understands that amongst a long list of assets, the CAB want the couple’s house in Glaslough on the edge of the famous Castle Leslie estate, a property at Drummans in Scotstown, Co. Monaghan, and development land in Glaslough and Mullaghmatt along with a Mercedes and various amounts in cash seized during searches.

Investigations are also continuing to identify any other lands that officers believe Grew may own in the Republic of Ireland.

In 2019, when CAB officers raided properties connected to Grew they found a stash of Viagra along with documents they hoped would unlock the secrets of his hidden property portfolio.


Wads of cash found during a Garda raid of Breen White’s property.

Wads of cash found during a Garda raid of Breen White’s property.

Wads of cash found during a Garda raid of Breen White’s property.


Grew, they believe, has become filthy rich from his trade in contraband cigarettes made in factories in Thailand, Indonesia and China and shipped into the UK and Ireland.

The 64-year-old moves between the North and South and regularly spends extended periods on both sides of the border.

In the South, he lives with wife Nuala in a bungalow outside the walls of stunning Castle Leslie and enjoys nights out at country music sessions. Despite his age and rugged complexion, he prides himself on being popular with the ladies, and his wife was furious when the little blue pills were discovered during Garda raids.

Gardaí believe he runs a network of 20 associates based between Monaghan and Armagh involved in the smuggling of all sorts of commodities, with cigarettes being their most lucrative trade – estimated to fetch them €10 million a year.

The crew have been smuggling for decades and while many have claimed they were involved in criminality for ‘the cause’ they have all squirrelled away personal fortunes from their rackets.

Grew was in the Glaslough property when officers from the Bureau stormed the house in the early hours of a morning in January 2019.

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They spent hours rifling through documents, computer hard drives and banking details and in the months since they have identified parcels of development land and properties in border regions.

They believe he has further interests north of the border; however, the UK’s Assets Recovery Agency was disbanded and taken under the wing of the National Crime Agency (NCA). It hasn’t been very active in policing the proceeds of crime in recent years.

Grew’s main sidekick is Brian Arthurs.


Smuggler Breen White.

Smuggler Breen White.

Smuggler Breen White.


Officers are expected to tell the High Court how they believe that Grew had been hoping to develop large housing estates on some of the lands they have identified and was hoping to become a legitimate businessman and enjoy his retirement years, openly spending his wealth rather than hiding behind the façade of a rural trader.

In the mid 1980s he was part of a landmine attack on a UDR patrol in Co. Armagh which saw him get 15 years behind bars. Arthurs has previously received 25 years in prison.

Together they are understood to head up a network of smugglers, including businessman Breen White, who made a huge settlement with the Bureau in recent years.

White lives in a palatial pad in Castleblaney complete with it’s own airplane landing strip on vast lands around it.

In 2017, he consented to an order and paid up €500,000 after a proceeds-of-crime case was taken against him. His compound was previously raided and bags of cash totalling almost €300,000 were found stashed in a van and a shed. Sources say that Breen (50), is the bagman for the smuggling operation and were alerted to him after a suspicious transaction of money from Hong Kong.

The IRA and the republican movement is long believed to have been funded, amongst other things, by contraband cigarettes which are sold in markets, housing estates and in shops at knockdown prices. The property market was a traditional focus for IRA money laundering for decades.

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