FOUR bank accounts in four separate financial institutions in west Cork have been frozen for up to a week following an operation by the Criminal Assets Bureau yesterday.
Searches in 21 locations across the West Cork area and one in Tipperary took place yesterday.
According to gardaí, there is a large sum of money combined in the bank accounts which have been frozen.
The holder of the accounts cannot access them until the bureau has released them.
They have initially been frozen for seven days, after which a court order can be sought for a further extension of the restraining order on the accounts.
€22,500 in cash was seized during yesterday's operation, as well as six cars, a Rolex watch and two Louis Vuitton handbags.
The raids are part of an investigation into the activities of a man suspected of laundering criminal proceeds through a number of businesses.
Phones and electronic storage devices which were also seized in yesterday's raids are also being analysed.
Investigators are hoping the items will lead gardaí to further suspected proceeds of crime, as well as help them secure convictions.
Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan said the raids yesterday got underway at 5am and continued throughout the morning in various locations across West Cork.
A premises in Tipperary was also targeted in the operation.
11 residential addresses were targeted, along with four business premises, a hotel room and six professional premises, linked to solicitors and accountants.
Gardaí would not reveal the locations of the targeted addresses, and would not elaborate on why a hotel room was examined during the operation.
The raids are part of an investigation centred on one person involved in the sale and supply of drugs in Cork city and county.
The man is linked to a number of businesses in West Cork, through which he is believed to be laundering the proceeds of his criminal conduct, namely the supply of controlled drugs through these businesses, according to gardaí.
Six cars, a Rolex watch and two Louis Vuitton designer handbags were seized. The vehicles included a 191 Renault Kadjar, a 182 Kia Sportage, a 171 Range Rover and a 162 Hyundai Santa Fe.
€22,500 of cash has also been seized in yesterday morning's raids.
The operation involving the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Emergency Response Unit and was backed up by the Southern Region Garda Armed Support Unit, the Garda Dog Unit, the Cork Divisional Search Team and local Detective and Uniform Gardai from Cork.
A Garda spokesman said: “In addition to this, a small quantity of suspected cocaine and cannabis herb, Mobile phones, Financial records and Business records were also seized and funds were restrained in four different financial accounts.” He added: “Two men were arrested at the scene by local Gardaí. One man was arrested on foot of a Court bench warrant while another man was arrested for an offence under Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1997 as amended. The offence had occurred on an earlier date.” In the past year, the Criminal Assets Bureau has targeted Cork criminals a number of times.
Last month, the bureau raided three properties in Aherla and Kerry in an operation targeting an individual in his 50s who has previously been the target of an investigation by the bureau.
Two cars - a 182-registered Audi TT and a 161-registered Mercedes Benz – were seized in that operation, as well as three high-value watches.
The watches were Rolex, Omega and Mont Blanc.
€1,400 in cash, a number of phones and electronic devices and records relating to cryptocurrency purchases were also discovered by the investigators and they have also been seized.
No arrests were made in that operation and investigations are continuing.
Last April, the bureau seized ten vehicles and four Rolex watches during an operation on Cork's northside.
€31,500 in cash was also seized in that operation.
The gang being targeted in the operation are suspected of pressurising elderly people to carry out home improvements at high costs. The gang is also being investigated in relation to burglaries, drugs offences and fraud.
Seven residences were searched, as was a plot of land, and three professional premises linked to solicitors and accountants.
The seized vehicles included a 181 Toyota HI Lux, 2015 UK-registered Toyota Hi Lux, a 191 Toyota Landcruiser, a 181 Ford Focus Sport, a 191 Ford Focus, a 172 Ford Transit Pick up, a 162 Kia and other vehicles.
A week later, the bureau seized watches, a fur coat, rings, and designer handbags in a follow-up operation targeting the same Cork gang.
In May, the bureau revealed that a house in north Cork was under investigation as part of a probe into a Chinese gang suspected of involvement cannabis cultivation.
The house was singled out by the CAB along with another one in south Tipperary for being under "beneficial ownership" by the gang.
That operation was part of a nationwide one linked to searches carried out in Dublin and Laois the previous day, and targeted a gang involved in the sale and supply of drugs.
It followed the discovery of a number of large grow houses across the country. Large cannabis cultivation operations involve a lot of planning and funds as equipment required include extractor fans, thermostats, compost, fertiliser and sophisticated lighting, heating and watering equipment.
Chief Supt Cadogan appealed to anyone who has information about drug dealing in the west Cork area to come forward and tell gardaí.