SIX people were charged today following a major garda operation targeting the assets of a drug gang in Limerick city.
Over 300 Limerick Gardai, supported by national units, as well as members of the Defence Forces, Revenue and Customs, swooped on homes, businesses, and lands, on Shannonside.
Over €357,000 in cash and monies in financial accounts was seized and frozen, in what was the second major blow to the Keane/Collopy gang in as many years.
“Operation Coronation”, which involved multiple garda units, resulted in gardai seizing a massive haul of cash and assets allegedly purchased with the proceeds of serious crime, including: 5 designer watches; a BMW, a VW Tiguan and a Range Rover; 8 horses; €8,000 worth of suspected cannabis herb; a €10,000 horse box; and documentation which is being examined by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).
Twelve people were arrested for suspected money laundering offenses, drugs offences, possession of an offensive weapon, and breaches of the Control of Horses Act, 1996.
“As part of ‘Operation Coronation’, in excess of 300 personnel from the Limerick Division supported by the Criminal Assets Bureau, Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, the Emergency Response Unit, the Armed Response Unit, Regional Dog Unit, Air Support Unit, members from the Irish Defence Forces and Revenue and Customs carried out a total of 65 searches at dwellings, businesses and on land near the outskirts of Limerick City,” said a garda spokesman.
Five of the 12 arrested individuals, were charged before Limerick District Court, under the Criminal Justice Money Laundering & Terrorist Finance Act, 2020.
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 5, 2020.
Nicole Williams, 29, of 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 16, 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, of 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 5, 2020.
Leeann Carey, 41, and Patrick Moloney, 40, both with the same address, at Sean Houston Place, Garryowen, Limerick, were each remanded on bail on a charge of knowingly possessing €32,090 cash proceeds of crime, on a date in January 2021, at their home address.
Mr Moloney was further charged with knowingly possessing €2,340 cash, on the same date, at the same address.
A sixth man who was arrested as part of Operation Coronation — “Fat” John McCarthy, 50, with an address at Cliona Park, Moyross, Limerick — was remanded on bail to November 17th on charges of keeping two horses in contravention of local authority bylaws, and keeping two unlicensed horses, on September 7, 2021.
A garda source said today’s searches were targeting the activities of a “crime group in Limerick”.
It was a follow-up to similar searches as part of Operation Coronation in June 2020 when gardai seized €700,000, as well as drugs, guns, and the deeds to a Dubai property.
Two firearms, including a handgun and a bolt-action rifle, as well as an extendable taser baton concealed in a plastic wrapping, were seized in the 2020 garda raids.
Last year’s search operation targeted 67 homes, premises, and locations across Limerick, Clare and Tipperary, leading to the arrest of 20 people.
A number of those arrested last year were brought before Limerick District Court and charged with drugs offences.
Gardai recovered €260,000 in cash, as well as €200,000 which was held in 11 bank accounts, three cars worth around €100,000, jewellery and watches with an estimated value of €100,000, drugs with a street value of €23,500, two cocaine pressing machines, and €6,000 worth of clothing.
The Keane/Collopy gang, which has tentacles across the country and abroad, has been involved in the sale and supply of drugs and weapons for the past two decades.