Elite garda officers are using luxury BMWs seized from gangsters to patrol organised crime hotspots, it has emerged.
Two armour-plated cars believed to have cost more than 350,000 euro were recovered by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) last year.
The BMW X5 series four-by-fours were made to order and imported from Germany by notorious Limerick gang figures Wayne and Ger Dundon.
But after Cab handed the bullet-proof vehicles over to the Exchequer, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan ordered they be given to the force.
It is understood both cars are used by the Garda's elite emergency response unit (ERU) which is based at the Special Detective Unit in Harcourt Street. The ERU backs up other specialist units as well as uniformed officers during risky operations against violent gangland criminals at trouble spots around the capital as well as in Limerick.
The donation of the specialised SUVs to the Garda was revealed in the publication of Cab's annual report for 2009.
The report shows former Government press secretary Frank Dunlop paid Cab a 30,000 euro fine last year for his involvement in bribing councillors to vote in favour of rezoning land at Carrickmines in south Dublin.
It also reveals the bureau obtained interim orders to the value of more than 11.5 million euro and final restraint orders totalling more than 3.5 million euro in 2009. The bureau also collected more than 5 million euro in taxes and interest as part of its investigations throughout the year.
But it cost the taxpayer 6.87 million euro to run Cab last year, with just over 5.7 million euro of that going on salaries.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said the results highlighted in plain terms the effectiveness of a joint approach against the proceeds of criminal activity. He said: "A review of the law underpinning the operation of the bureau is continuing with a view to concluding proposals to strengthen it."