Dissident republicans are running prostitution rackets using young women trafficked into Ireland by the Eastern European mafia.
And the head of the Continuity IRA (CIRA) in Co Louth has been uncovered as a central figure in the trafficking and enslavement of the young women.
According to gardai, the man -- who is in his early 40s and married with children -- has also raped several of the young women trafficked into Ireland. He is also said to have raped a Brazilian transsexual who was working independently in a Dundalk hotel after the prostitute refused to hand over earnings.
None of the prostitutes questioned by gardai, however, felt safe enough to co-operate and they fear they will be killed if they speak to police. It is understood that over the past two years, the CIRA prostitution racket has spread to Dublin and Limerick.
CIRA involvement in "running brothels" was mentioned in a recent report by the International Monitoring Commission, which has offices in Belfast and Dublin.
Despite the alleged differences between the dissident groups, gardai say that the Continuity and Real IRA (RIRA) movements have close ties and often work together but operate in different criminal fields.
The RIRA's main criminal activity is cigarette smuggling, and they have become one of the biggest gangs involved in the illicit tobacco trade in western Europe.
According to gardai, the dissidents made contact with eastern European sex traffickers while buying cigarettes. The RIRA continued with the cigarette smuggling while the CIRA moved into prostitution.
Both the RIRA and CIRA are also involved in extorting money from drug dealers on both sides of the Border. In Dublin they are directly involved in the trade.
During the boom in the head shop trade, both organisations extorted money from traders and were responsible for several arson attacks carried out at the behest of drug dealers who, while paying protection to the dissidents, were losing trade to the 'legal-high' shops.
Republicans have been linked to all sorts of criminal activity, but the CIRA, which began as the military wing of the break-away Republican Sinn Fein (RSF), is the first republican terror group to engage in the sex trade.
Source: Sunday Independent