Police arrested 32 people on Tuesday in simultaneous raids across several European countries targeting an alleged Irish organized crime ring, officials said.
The arrests in Britain, Spain and Ireland were aimed at a gang which Irish police, who are trying to clamp down on organized crime, suspect of drugs and weapons deals and money laundering.
Irish police, who have been monitoring the alleged gang for some time, said they had arrested one man and had searched 17 premises in the morning operation.
British police said 32 people had been arrested in simultaneous raids, including nine men and two women in the United Kingdom.
They said 20 people were arrested in Spain, among them the man believed to be the head of the network, a 53-year-old Irish-born British national living in Malaga.
This network has been offering a global investment service, plowing hundreds of millions of pounds of dirty cash into offshore accounts, companies, and property on behalf of criminals, Britain's Serious and Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) said in a statement.
The head of Ireland's Garda National Drugs Unit, Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Quilter, said drugs, cash and guns had been found in the operation, which involved 750 law enforcement officers.
Across the three jurisdictions, money, firearms and drugs have been located, he told national broadcaster RTE.
Irish cities, such as Limerick in the west, have long suffered from gang violence, drug trafficking and money laundering -- activities that often sustain the paramilitary groups operating in Northern Ireland, a part of the UK.
Tue May 25, 2010