A NEW report has revealed that dissident republicans are heavily involved in organised crime in Northern Ireland.
Crime fighters say groups such as Oglaigh na hEireann, the Continuity IRA and the ‘New IRA’ are raking in fortunes from illegal rackets.
According to the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF), this includes raising funds from:
* fuel laundering;
* tobacco smuggling;
* money laundering;
* insurance fraud;
* and counterfeit currency.
“Dissident republican groups also remain heavily involved in ‘civil administration’ and extortion against those they suspect of being involved in organised crime, in particular drugs supply,” the Organised Crime Taskforce said.
It added that some loyalist paramilitaries, including the UDA and UVF, are also still involved in this sort of criminality.
The information was released on Wednesday in the annual report of the OCTF.
It is an umbrella group which brings together government, MI5, PSNI, HM Revenue and Customs, Social Security Agency investigators and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).,
The OCFT said almost £1.4 million in criminal assets were seized and £729,000 in cash was also confiscated over the past 12 months.
And agencies had also seized over £10 million worth of drugs from the streets of Northern Ireland.
However, there was a warning to members of the public that anyone who buys fake goods or laundered petrol is effectively supporting criminal gangs.
Justice Minister David Ford said: “Our threat assessment points to the continued general lack of public understanding of the connection between, for example, the purchase of fake goods and the supporting of organised crime gangs.
“The theme of this year’s launch is therefore to urge the public to better understand their role in organised crime and stop supporting criminality.
“There is no such thing as a victimless crime – organised crime is closer than you think.
“Law enforcement agencies and government will continue in our work to tackle organised crime but the support of the public is vital.”
PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said police will continue to work to reduce the risks posed to local communities by organised crime.
“Last year we frustrated, disrupted or dismantled 116 Organised Crime Groups and made 464 arrests, in many cases resulting in convictions and custodial sentences,” he explained.
“People need to recognise the link between their decisions to purchase certain goods and services and how the wrong choice can increase their personal risk of becoming a victim.
“We will continue to work to reduce the substantial risks posed to our communities by organised crime.”