Two men from Northern Ireland have been arrested by detectives investigating an armed crime gang suspected of planning to abduct a businessman.
The alleged plan was foiled by gardai in an operation in Cavan on Sunday following a long-running surveillance operation.
Seven suspects, including five foreign nationals, were arrested after detectives stopped four cars and seized three weapons as well as balaclavas and phones.
Two of the arrested men have addresses in Northern Ireland - one is a 27-year-old from Co Tyrone while the other is a 24-year-old from Belfast who has been investigated previously over threats to kill.
It has been learned the gang was targeting businessman and previous Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) target Roger O'Grady (36) as part of a suspected extortion plot. The Cavan-based car dealer previously handed over around €100,000 (£85,715) worth of cash and vehicles after the Bureau took a proceeds of crime case against him.
In 2012 the High Court in Dublin ordered that the assets be disposed of. These included a red Ferrari F355 car, sold for €41,900 (£35,900), and a Robinson R22 helicopter for €15,000 (£12,900).
The court heard the businessman, with addresses in Roscommon and Cavan, was alleged to have submitted fraudulent claims to the Irish taxman.
Gardai are now probing if a gang planned to abduct Mr O'Grady in a blackmail plot before they were arrested. It is also being investigated if the money was being sought by the people arrested, or if they were hired by another organised crime gang to carry out the foiled abduction.
Detectives had the crime network under surveillance before they made the arrests in the Bawnboy area of Co Cavan.
Three semi-automatic weapons, ammunition, balaclavas and mobile phones were seized during the arrest operation.
The other five suspects are understood to be foreign nationals, including two brothers from Albania, as well as men from Romania and Poland aged between 31 and 41.
They have address in west Dublin and Drogheda, and one of the men was previously at the centre of an investigation into an alleged assault and false imprisonment at a business in the capital. All seven men were arrested on suspicion of extortion and blackmail offences.