As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda authorities established an Organised Crime Unit on a temporary basis in November 2005 to target organised criminal gangs. The Garda Commissioner has now established the Unit on a permanent basis with a complement of seventy. A review of its activities and strength is ongoing.
Since its establishment, the Organised Crime Unit has pro-actively targeted criminal gangs engaged in diverse types of criminality, which transcend the organisational and divisional boundaries of An Garda Síochána.
The main forms of criminality being committed by these gangs include armed robberies, hi-jacking of valuable loads and commodities, warehouse robberies / burglaries, ‘tiger' kidnappings, cash-in-transit robberies, bank robberies involving firearms and the importation of large quantities of controlled drugs.
Through focused, intelligence-led operations, success has been achieved and the activities of many of the organised crime groups have been disrupted. A number of persons suspected of involvement in this type of criminality have been apprehended on serious charges with many before the courts facing lengthy sentences.
The Organised Crime Unit has taken the lead role in targeting organised criminal gangs in conjunction with the assistance of other national units. The unit's primary functions are as follows:
To identify organised crime groups that operate within the State through increased profiling, intelligence gathering, overt and covert surveillance and threat assessments.
To develop intelligence on highly organised and professional groups of criminals involved in serious crime and whose operations transcend district / divisional and regional boundaries.
To develop intelligence and information supplied by confidential sources on major targeted criminals.
To liaise with the National Criminal Intelligence Unit in developing intelligence and information from all sources in relation to serious and organised criminal groups.
The Unit will continue to work closely with the other specialist units, including the Garda National Drugs Unit, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Special Detective Unit and the Emergency Response Unit, in targeting those suspected of involvement in organised criminal activity.