The Irish police known as the Gardaí, alongside armed officers and backed by the Army, have conducted one of the biggest operations against organised crime in Limerick, with the city’s two largest, and rival, gangs now under investigation as part as the operation.
More than 400 personnel were involved in Tuesday’s operation, with 65 properties and other locations searched during the co-ordinated raids, during which 12 suspects were arrested.
The searches were carried out under Operation Coronation, which has targeted drug dealing and money laundering by rival gangs based in Limerick.
Operation Coronation has been ongoing for several years and has sought to bring suspects before the courts on drugs and related charges as well as seizing assets, including property and luxury cars, along with confiscating cash, freezing bank accounts and seizing firearms.
The gangs being targeted were previously involved in a feud in Limerick, which began in 2003 and lasted about a decade costing 12 lives, most of them in fatal shootings.
While many of the key figures in the Limerick feud were jailed and others were murdered, both gangs have continued operating over the last decade since the feud ended and maintain control of the Limerick drugs scene.
The latest phase of the operation carried out on Tuesday was the biggest day of action to date under Operation Coronation and targeted the McCarthy-Ryan-Dundon group, the rival criminal network to the Keane-Collopy group.
In a very similar day of action in June, 2020, members of the Keane-Collopy gang were targeted by more than 200 Garda members and Defence Forces personnel in raids at 67 private homes, businesses and lands in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary.
While the raids against the McCarthy-Ryan-Dundon group on Tuesday were being led by gardaí from the Limerick division, most of the specialist national Garda units that target organised crime are also involved in the searches.
The Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab), which has previously seized property in Dubai as part of Operation Coronation, was on the ground in Limerick as well as the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, Emergency Response Unit, Armed Response Unit, Regional Dog Unit and the Garda helicopter and Army and Revenue’s customs officials.
The 65 searches have been carried out at houses, apartments and other dwellings as well as businesses and at lands on the outskirts of Limerick city. Aside from the arrest of the 12 suspects – seven men and five women – a number of assets and other items have been seized.
Six accounts containing almost €300,000 have been frozen while €62,500 in cash has also been confiscated by gardaí as well as five designer watches and three vehicles – a BMW, VW Tiguan and Range Rover.
Gardaí also took possession of eight horses and a horse box valued at €10,000. Financial documentation was seized, which was set to be examined by Cab to find other cash and assets held by the suspects. Gardaí also seized cannabis herb valued at about €8,000.
Of the 12 people arrested, eight were being questioned over alleged money laundering offences, two others were detained over alleged drugs offences, one person was being questioned under the Control of Horses Act and another was arrested due to the alleged possession of an offensive weapon.
Follow up police statement on charges
Nineteen people were arrested and 14 were charged following a major garda operation targeting the assets of a Limerick gang on Tuesday.
Over 300 gardaí from the Limerick division, supported by national Garda units, as well as members of the Defence Forces, Revenue and Customs, carried out a series of planned raids and searches.
The searches, carried out under Operation Coronation, yielded a combined €566,000 in cash and money from eight financial accounts; ten horses, including a stallion worth an estimated €50,000; a €10,000 horse box; three high-end vehicles, including a BMW, VW Tiguan, Range Rover; five designer watches; €10,000 worth of cannabis herb and cocaine; drug paraphernalia; and documents.
Three women and two men appeared before Limerick District Court, charged under the Criminal Justice Money Laundering & Terrorist Finance Act, 2020, with knowingly possessing large cash sums linked to proceeds of crime.
A sixth appeared in relation to alleged breaches of the Control of Horses Act.
A further eight suspects received station bail to appear in court at a later date.
Five others remained in garda custody as part of the mammoth probe into the activities of the Keane/Collopy gang.
Limerick native, Paul Collopy (46), with an address at Gordon Drive, Cloughleigh, Ennis, Co Clare, was remanded in custody on a charge of knowingly possessing €20,575 cash proceeds of crime, on March 5th 2020.
Nicole Williams (29), Clonard, Westbury, Co Clare, was remanded on bail on one count of knowingly handling/acquiring/possessing/using the proceeds of crime to the value of €71,340, on August 16th 2020.
Ms Williams was also charged with one count of possession a canister of pepper spray on the same date, contrary to Section 2 of the Firearms Act.
Heather McNamara (38), Childers Road, Cloughleigh, Ennis, Co Clare, was remanded on bail, on one count of knowingly possessing €20,575 cash proceeds of crime, at an address at Cliona Park, Moyross, Limerick, on March