ARRESTS have been made in Limerick by Gardaí working with INTERPOL and police forces around the world investigating an international organised crime ring.
As part of Operation JACKAL (called Operation SKEIN by Gardaí), a total of 34 people were arrested across the country, including in Limerick.
Arrests for charging were also made in Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Kerry, Laois, Longford, and Cork.
The national sweep of arrests included 9 arrested and detained under organised crime legislation, 4 arrested for money laundering offences, and 33 arrested and charged for money laundering.
The operation in Ireland was led by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) and aimed to crack down on the Black Axe crime group, which originated in West Africa in the 1970s.
As part of the operation, over €400,000 in money stolen from Irish companies – from a reported total of €475,000 – was recovered by the GNECB, including a sum of €98,000 that was stolen from a business using a Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud.
According to Gardaí, the Black Axe group mainly commit BEC and romance frauds worldwide and launder the money through Irish bank accounts.
Speaking about the results of Operation JACKAL, Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly, Organised and Serious Crime, said: “Operation JACKAL continues to demonstrate our commitment to work internationally, engaging with law enforcement partners, such as INTERPOL, in disrupting the activities of transnational organised crime groups.”
“Operation JACKAL is a direct response to investigations initiated by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, once again highlighting the internationally recognised expertise and professionalism of the members of An Garda Síochána, particularly those attached to GNECB.”
Arrests of members of the Black Axe group were previously made in Limerick in 2022, also part of Operation SKEIN.
Gardaí said that while the gang mainly commits online frauds, they are also involved in human trafficking, drugs and gun crime, and murder.
The gang use money gained through scams and frauds to fund other crime areas.
“Organised crime is mostly driven by financial gain and INTERPOL is committed to working with our member countries to deprive these groups of their ill-gotten assets,” said Isaac Kehinde Oginni, Director of INTERPOL’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC).
“It also sends a strong message to West African crime networks that no matter where they hide in cyberspace, INTERPOL will pursue them relentlessly. The illegal activities of Black Axe and similar crimes syndicates will remain a priority for INTERPOL,” he said.