Officials suspect informant warned ex-IRA chief of swoop
It has now been learned that detectives discovered evidence that the notorious oil smuggler and his associates knew about the operation and destroyed computers and documents just before the raids took place last Wednesday morning.
Senior security officials are now seriously concerned that Murphy has an informant in an agency investigating him either in Northern Ireland or the Republic.
Murphy was named under privilege during a Smithwick Tribunal hearing in 2011 as a former chief of staff of the IRA army council.
PSNI and Garda surveillance officers reported seeing a number of large fires close to the home of Murphy in south Armagh around 2am on the morning of the raids. Charred remains of laptops, computer disks and documentation were later found in searches.
Operation Loft swung into action at 6am when PSNI and Garda SWAT teams surrounded the millionaire's property.
They were part of a 300-strong force, including police and customs on both sides of the border, who carried out searches across 11 counties. A large amount of documentation and over €100,000 (£85,000) in cash was seized in the raids at 22 homes and business premises.
Officers also discovered one of the largest diesel-laundering plants ever found along the border. Sources have revealed that it had the capacity to produce over €5m (£4.3m) of illegal fuel a year. A further 40,000 litres of fuel was seized at the same site.
The investigation was spearheaded by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in Dublin. Investigators uncovered a web of bank accounts in fictitious names, which have been used to launder an estimated €100m (£85m) in the past 18 months alone.
Over €1.6m (£1.4m) has so far been frozen in bank accounts in the Republic, Northern Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe.
But sources say that the figure is expected to rise dramatically.
A security source said: “Fires were suddenly lit at a number of locations at around the same time, at 2am, and they were still smouldering when the raid took place.
“Laptops, computer disks and a large amount of documentation had been destroyed in the fires. They seemed to know that a raid was imminent. They now have to explain why this took place.”