Republican smugglers using Provo cell structures
Republican smugglers have adopted cell structures perfected by the Provisional IRA at the height of their terrorist campaign to minimise the impact of detection or penetration by police.
The dissidents might organise shipments with up to eight containers - but each cell is only responsible for one container and its members are not aware of the others.
This means that if one is seized as a result of intelligence or infiltration, the remainder is more likely to be protected.
The structure is also geared towards safeguarding the identity of the main players and protecting them from informants in the network.
A British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly report says China is a favourite destination for sourcing cigarettes. It produces 43% of the world's tobacco and cigarettes can be sourced there for as little as 20 cents a pack.
Couriers carrying up to €50,000 each are sent from Border areas, mainly north Louth and south Armagh, and flown out through Dublin airport to purchase the products.
Container loads with between seven and nine million cigarettes are purchased in Asia and loaded onto 'mother' ships.
They dock at feeder ports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp and Le Havre and the consignments are then placed on smaller vessels bound for Dublin and other ports on the east coast.
The smugglers have little fear of detection at Dublin as 10,000 40-foot containers pass through weekly and there is only one x-ray scanner.