Belfast Telegraph

Garda phone tapping sting leads to the arrest of three officers in corruption probe

Specialist Garda units are understood to have picked up
Specialist Garda units are understood to have picked up "chatter" on bugged mobile devices between serious criminals and gardai (stock photo)

By Tom Brady and Ken Foy

Three Garda officers were arrested after communications with members of an organised crime gang were picked up by phone tapping.

The arrests of a superintendent, inspector and detective garda on the same day are unprecedented.

The inspector was released without charge and a file will be prepared for the director of public prosecutions. He was immediately suspended.

The other two were still in custody last night after being arrested yesterday in an anti-corruption probe.

The superintendent was held on suspicion of "directly leaking" key information to a criminal gang about a Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) investigation into its activities.

Officers intercepted telephone calls as part of the probe, which resulted in the arrests.

They placed covert surveillance on the criminal suspects, and intercepted calls and examined phone records of devices used by the criminals.

More arrests are expected, with a number of civilians likely to be detained. The next round-up of suspects may also include further Garda arrests.

Senior sources said the arrests would open up a new phase in their investigation.

One said: "This is not over by a long way. There is a lot more work to do and a lot more detail to emerge and be examined."

The payment of cash is believed to be central to many of the allegations of corruption.

Specialist Garda units are understood to have picked up "chatter" on bugged mobile devices between serious criminals and gardai.

The gang is understood to have taken advantage of "turbulence" in the senior officer's personal life which led to him allegedly providing it with information about a CAB probe for personal gain.

The anti-corruption investigation, which has been under way for the past 10 months, is being headed by officers from the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI).

The alleged leaks included information about a planned search-and-seize operation by the CAB.

This was set to target members of the gang and others with links to that criminal network.

Officers based at Garda HQ examining phone calls made by criminals expanded the investigation to include an allegation that a garda had been paid around €20,000 for information.

Despite the information leak, the raids by the CAB went ahead. Local gardai were not involved.

The raids stemmed from months of investigation into the drug trafficking and money laundering activities of a number of criminals.

Two of the units involved in backing up the CAB on those searches, the NBCI and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, also took part in yesterday's arrests.

The superintendent and the detective garda are both based in the same division, while the inspector had been working there also but has since been transferred to another division. The detective garda had been arrested previously and has already been suspended from duty by Commissioner Drew Harris.

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