Sale of fake designer goods funding INLA
The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) are using the sale of fake designer goods to fund the paramilitary group according to the Gardai and PSNI.
A garda official told The Sunday Times that the organisation is thought to be generating tens of thousands each month through the sale of knock-off clothing at Christmas markets across the island of Ireland.
The racket represents one of the most lucrative forms of organised crime the group is involved in, with significant mark-ups from products shipped primarily from China generating extensive profits for the republican movement.
A senior garda told the paper: “The INLA is a small terrorist group but if it had access to increased funding, it might have the potential to grow into a more substantial threat.
“Its members have shown themselves more than willing to engage in gang violence, that’s why their involvement in selling contraband is a serious problem.
“Paramilitarism is on the rise again. When groups like the INLA have access to money, it enables them to attract more support, which leads to more violence. Fundraising becomes a driving force for violence.”
The group – responsible for 110 deaths during the Troubles, including the murder of Conservative Party MP Airey Neave in 1979 – officially declared a ceasefire in 2009.
However, members have been linked to gun violence, drug dealing and extortion throughout Belfast, Londonderry and Dublin.
A previous upsurge in activity from the INLA saw a PSNI operation in Londonderry in June – with firearms, thousands of illicit cigarettes and large quantities of cash seized.
This followed a similar raid in February targeting the organisation, with almost 30,000 illicit cigarettes discovered which had been due to be supplied across the north west.
Detective Inspector Phelan from the PSNI’s Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF) said: “The INLA are involved in a wide range of criminal money-making rackets, all designed to line their own pockets. This includes the sale of counterfeit goods including counterfeit clothing and DVDs as well as illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco.
“Whilst people may not think there is anything wrong with purchasing counterfeit goods, the reality is that the profits raised from this type of activity can be used by the INLA to further fund other elements of their criminality, such as the purchase of firearms that are then used in paramilitary style attacks and the supply of illegal drugs.
“The INLA are a priority for the PSNI’s PCTF due to the harm and devastation that they cause to their own communities. We regularly seize counterfeit items and will continue to proactively target this type of criminality.
“The INLA are nothing more than hypocrites, who allow those supplying illegal drugs to continue ruining the lives of those with addiction so long as they pay up – and if they don’t they are threatened with severe violence and murder. Whilst the sale of counterfeit items may seem like a victimless crime, profits made from the sale of these items help to fund INLA terrorism and criminality.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital