THE illegal fuel laundering trade has been badly hit by the hunt for the killers of Detective Adrian Donohoe, but there has been criticism within the force about the restrictions on gardai to tackle these gangs.
At the recent Garda Representative Association (GPA) conference, Garda Robert Peelo said the local division was “on its knees” since the murder of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe.
He said the station was trying to deal with the usual policing situation as well as the murder investigation but there are not enough patrol cars. Last week patrols were out for the first time in ten days and within half-an-hour had come across 26,000 litres of mixing agent for fuel laundering.
It now thought that key members of the gang suspected of murdering Det Garda Donohoe have fled the country.
It is believed the gang members fear retaliation by the criminal organisers of the multi-million illegal fuel trade so badly hit by garda raids in recent months.
On Saturday last, gardai in Dundalk carried out searches at Faughart as part of the ongoing investigation into the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe at Lordship Credit Union on 25 January last.
The recent raids concentrated on a gang dealing in stolen cars who have links with the Crossmaglen gang who carried out about eight robberies in the Louth-Armagh area before murdering Detective Garda Donohoe at Lordship.
Gardai believe that about eight robberies were carried out by that gang before the murder.
The murder investigation has increased garda activity in the region where authorities on both sides of the border had already started to crack down on fuel laundering the chief money source for criminal gangs operating in the area.
In March the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) backed by 300 officers as well as military personnel on both sides of the border, launched a wave of raids under the cover of darkness on almost 20 illegal fuel laundering plants.
The country’s largest illegal fuel plant based at Hackballscross and linked to a well-known ex-IRA chief, was at the centre of the investigation.
It is estimated the operation at Hackballscross cost the exchequer here 5.5 million euro a year.
But even though the hunt for Detective Garda Donohoe’s killers has hindered criminal activity there has been criticism from within the garda ranks.
After Saturdays searches at Faughart gardai renewed their appeal to members of the public to come forward with any information they may have in relation to the murder of Detective Garda Donohoe as the investigation is active and ongoing.