Times Online March 09, 2006

Three arrests in organised crime raids
By Times Online and agencies

More than £140,000 as well as fuel and cigarettes were seized today as part of a huge cross-border police operation against organised crime along the Irish border.

Two men and a woman were arrested and taken in for questioning after police in south Armagh and north Co Louth swooped and searched properties. Two shotguns as well as computers and boxes of documents were taken away for examination.

The searches were carried out in a co-ordinated operation involving the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda Siochana, who were backed up by British and Irish soldiers.

Among the nine properties searched was the home of Thomas "Slab" Murphy, alleged to have been a one-time IRA chief-of-staff. Thirty thousand illegally smuggled cigarettes and 8,000 litres of fuel were also seized in the operation - one of the largest ever mounted on the Irish border.

The operation was welcomed by Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell, a member of the House of Commonsí Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee.

The East Londonderry MP said: "The Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee is currently in the process of investigating organised crime such as the type that has been spotlighted by the raid on the South Armagh border.

"The news of a co-ordinated multi-agency raid involving co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is to be welcomed. Such an approach needs to be developed into a relentless and systematic campaign against criminals who are engaged in serious organised crime, the proceeds of which contribute ten of millions of pounds into the hands of the paramilitaries.

"Many within Northern Ireland will demand that raids of this nature and scale become a very regular occurrence. In light of ongoing criminal activity, particularly along this border region, the widest possible resource base must be made available to the police, Her Majestyís Revenue Customs and Excise, and the Assets Recovery Agency in order to root out those involved in such illegality."