THE Criminal Assets Bureau of the gardaí, which is tasked with investigating proceeds from criminal activity, had almost fifty targets under investigation in Donegal last year, its annual report shows.
The CAB is currently investigating a total of 48 persons and organisations across the county. The Bureau has increased its focus on criminals operating in rural and regional areas this year.
In June, the Bureau scored a success in their fight against drug crime when they took possession of a waterside property near Ramelton. Two weeks ago, Gardai and emergnecy services attended the scene of a fire at the house.
According to reports, the modern stone-clad home on the shores of Lough Swilly was once the playground for drug lord Desmond ‘Dessie’ Enfield – but now it is in the possession of the State and had been due to be sold with the proceeds going straight to the exchequer.
The High Court sanctioned the Bureau to take the house after a Proceeds of Crime case against Enfield.
CAB has already confiscated and sold luxury cars belonging to him, including an Audi and a Volkswagen Golf, and pocketed cash found at the house and in a network of accounts linked to the cross-border criminal.
Enfield’s home was searched in 2018 while he was in custody in Northern Ireland.
He was jailed in 2016 and described in court as the leader of a cross-border drug gang and one of Ulster’s most-prolific dealers.
He had been found with €340,000 worth of cannabis herb which was being transported from Newry to Lurgan in the back of a van.
During the search of his home, documents and other items were seized by officers from the Bureau who have been painstakingly putting together a case against him ever since.
In early June, the case concluded and officers were handed over the keys of the house which they have now secured for the State.
Enfield was identified by both the PSNI and local Bureau profilers who are specially trained members of the Garda force. Their role is to identify possible targets for the CAB.
Enfield was transporting vacuum packed drugs from Newry to Lurgan in the back of a van when officers from the PSNI put him and others under covert surveillance.
He was jailed along with Kieran Austin (63), from Lurgan, Darren Donnelly (35), from Omagh and Seamus Boyce (40) from Letterkenny. It is understood Enfield (37) headed up the gang, which spread across Derry and into Armagh.
Enfield tried to put up a battle against the Proceeds of Crime case but last year he consented to allow the cars seized from him to be sold once the money was placed in an account and not touched until the case was concluded.
During the proceedings the High Court heard he would claim that the house was left to him as part of an inheritance but that the Bureau would argue it had increased in value due to the expensive refurbishment job.
He was first named in court in August 2020 under legislation around criminal assets in the case based on searches carried out at the property
The CAB has trained profilers working across Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Donegal where they have identified more than 100 targets in the border regions, including cigarette smugglers, drug dealers and fuel launderers.
Meanwhile, the Bureau returned €4.2 million worth of criminal proceeds to the Irish Exchequer last year.