Two members of Ireland’s infamous Dead Zoo gang placed on Interpol’s Red Notice list

Both men were sentenced to prison at a trial in Rennes last year for their roles in a €13m plot to smuggle rhino horns and elephant tusks

Photo from the Interpol Red Notice list of Tom Greene, Dead Zoo Gang member sentenced to three years in France for rhino horn and elephant tusk smuggling.

Some of the Dead Zoo items seized by agents in raids

Eamon DillonSunday World

Two members of Ireland’s infamous Dead Zoo gang have been placed on Interpol’s Red Notice list as being wanted in France.

Both men were sentenced to prison at a trial in Rennes last year for their roles in a €13 million plot to smuggle rhino horns and elephant tusks out of the country.

Tom Greene (34) singled out as being the ringleader got a three-year sentence while Richard O’Riley (36), described as his brother, got a one-year sentence.

The Interpol notice describes both men as being British born and wanted in France for smuggling endangered species.

While a photo of Greene was published along with the notice which appears to be taken in a police station in 2013, there is none available for O’Riley.

Interpol can’t force authorities to arrest someone and the Red Notice system is used to just alert police in member countries about international fugitives.

They can be used to support extradition proceedings after an arrest has been made and have been known to result in fugitives being brought to justice years after their offence.

Some of the Dead Zoo items seized by agents in raids

During the trial, which was held in their absence, it emerged how police used phone taps and surveillance to nab four members of the Dead Zoo Gang

It also highlighted how the gang made connections to sell the goods to the illicit Asian medicine market with four Franco-Chinese men convicted over the illegal export scheme.

Greene got a three-year sentence despite the public prosecutor calling for a six-year term and referring to him as ‘a hunter without a rifle’ and the gang’s ‘sales rep’.

The investigation began after a random motorway stop by police in Poitiers in September 2015 that led to the discovery of several elephant tusks and €32,800 cash in a car.

The occupants of the BMW, who claimed they were antique dealers, were the four Irish men with addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Then in May 2016, investigators seized 14 raw ivory tusks of African origin and two carved tusks at a warehouse in Seine-Saint-Denis, north Paris.

Greene and O’Riley were arrested again with a rhinoceros horn weighing 14.7 kg at a hotel near Paeris in November, 2016.

The two other Irish men named in the court proceedings, Edward Gammel (34) and Daniel McCarthy (30), were also convicted for their parts and given suspended sentences.

Fines of up to €200,000 were also imposed on each of the men and they could face extra time in prison for not paying if arrested in France.

French police also discovered that ivory and rhino horn were being turned into powder, flakes, and on French soil before being exported to Vietnam and China where they are used in traditional medicine.

A Chinese businessman David Ta (51) was given two years for his part in exporting the horns and tusks.

Photos in Mr Ta's phone had enabled investigators to count 62 tusks that passed through his company between November 2015 and April 2016.

Three other Chinese men were also convicted for their parts in the smuggling ring including one described as Greene’s biggest customer.

A conservation campaigner in France previously told the Sunday World that she hoped authorities would follow up on the men’s convictions and sentences.

Charlotte Nithart, president of the Robin des Bois said: “Arrest warrants have been issued for them and we hope that the Irish authorities will cooperate as they did with the US authorities in the case of John Slattery, ex-John Flynn.”

Slattery, from Rathkeale, had previously been arrested in France where he used the name Flynn, before returning to Ireland from where he was extradited to the United States for rhino horn trafficking.

He has since served his time and returned to Ireland in August 2020.

The smuggling plot dealt with in Rennes shows the Dead Zoo gang were still operating despite a number of men being sent to jail in the UK in early 2016.

They had been accused of stealing artefacts from museums, including rhino horn objects, worth a staggering st£57 million.

Those convicted included cousins Richard Sheridan and Richard ‘Kerry’ O’Brien jr who both have served time in both the UK and the United States for their roles in the gang in illegally buying and exporting rhino horns.

The last known rhino horn theft came in Ireland in 2014 when burglars broke into the home of mega-star Michal Flatley in Co Cork.

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