Border IRA 'in disarray' as £370k drugs gang money goes missing
Border members of the Provisional IRA are said to be in a state of disarray after a huge sum of cash apparently went missing from one of their money-laundering fronts.
The shock over the loss of the money is said to be compounded by the fact that a young female employee, who is understood to have been 'close' but not related to one of the top criminal/IRA families, may be involved.
It is suspected, local sources said, that the money - put at just under £370,000 - went missing around the same time as the young woman, about three weeks ago.
To make matters worse for the Provos, it is also understood that a large part of the missing money belongs to one of Dublin's notorious drugs gangs.
It is understood that the loss of the money has not been reported to police on either side of the border by the company or the family that runs it.
The front business is actually inside Northern Ireland but in an area close to the border that has been described unofficially as being "very lightly policed" by members of the PSNI.
Sources have said that a number of drugs gangs in Dublin and the Leinster area have been laundering their cash through the Provo front businesses along the border because these are regarded as 'safe'.
No senior IRA figure has ever faced criminal prosecution for running any of the money laundering or other IRA crime businesses in the border area. It is this apparent lack of police and revenue scrutiny on either side of the border, sources said, that has been attracting the cash-rich drug gangs to launder their money through the Provo-controlled front businesses.
The family said to have been hit by the recent 'loss' owns several businesses and is also understood to have extensive property holdings on either side of the border. Their main business is diesel 'washing' and smuggling.
One source said: "They're going mad over this. There was a 'creditors' meeting and they were all called to see the boss man. He hadn't much to say to them."
It is understood the 'boss man' of the operation is the civilian lieutenant to south Armagh's top Provo, the head of a criminal empire estimated at generating €70m (£51m) in profit a year from international people, fuel and tobacco smuggling and a variety of other criminal activities.
Money-laundering has long been one of the border IRA's central business pillars, which is why the missing money is said to be causing something close to panic.
Local sources said that as well as the cash, the company's 'legit' books are said to have also gone missing. These could prove explosive in terms of any prosecutions for money-laundering, as the amounts of cash going through the business do not reflect the amounts claimed as 'assets' in the company accounts.