Updated: 15/12/16 : 06:52:35
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Rathkeale Traveller gang hit by major Garda raid

The notorious Rathkeale Rovers criminal Traveller gang were dealt a significant blow yesterday when 11 of their properties were raided by Gardaí.

More than 50 gardaí, led by members of the Criminal Assets Bureau, also seized €150,000 in cash in the raid at Rathkeale, west Limerick.

The planned raids were timed to coincide with the return of huge numbers of Travellers from abroad. Members of the Rathkeale Rovers gang figured in a high-profile court case in the UK earlier this year when they were jailed for dealing in stolen rhino horns and other valuable property.

Three high-end watches worth in excess of €100,000 were also seized in the planned operation, along with bank statements and other documents.

A Garda source said: “One piece of ivory was seized in the searches. It’s a (Chinese) libation cup, made from rhino horn. We are examining it to make sure it is what we believe it to be. It will be forensically examined; it’s an ornament of some sort.”

Yesterday’s raid targeted known members of the gang.

Seven residences and four other premises were raided and a large amount of cash was confiscated. Documents were also taken for further examination.

The modus operandi of the Rathkeale Rovers is to roam Europe carrying out thefts of rhino horns.

Chief Superintendent David Sheahan, head of the Limerick Garda Division, said: “We have CAB profilers in Limerick who prepared background work for the national unit which led to today’s investigation. We are happy to support CAB, and this was their investigation.”

Thirteen members of the Rathkeale Rovers gang were jailed last April for their part in robberies where property valued at £57m (€73m) was stolen in a series of UK museum raids.