NINETEEN people were arrested and 14 were charged following a major garda operation targeting the assets of a Limerick drug gang, Tuesday.
Over 300 Gardai from the Limerick Division, supported by national garda units, as well as members of the Defence Forces, Revenue and Customs, swooped in a series of planned raids and searches.
The garda codenamed “Operation Coronation” yielded a combined €566,000 in cash and monies 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.
“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.
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.
Tuesday’s searches were a follow-up to Operation Coronation in 2020, when gardai seized €700,000, drugs, guns, designer clothing, jewellery, cars, and the deeds to a Dubai property, as part of targeting the Keane/Collopy drug gang.
Then gardai, again supported by members of the Defence Forces, found a handgun and a bolt-action rifle, as well as an extendable taser baton concealed in a plastic wrapping. The 2020 raids targeted 67 homes, premises, and locations across Limerick, Clare and Tipperary, and 20 persons were arrested, with some charged with drugs offenses.