March 24, 2006 in Nation/World

Breakthrough in probe of reputed IRA chief

Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland – Detectives investigating a suspected fuel-smuggling empire of a reputed IRA leader announced Thursday they had found $1.3 million in a barn owned by the family of Thomas “Slab” Murphy.

Ireland’s anti-racketeering agency said the discovery – detailed for the first time in private court documents seen Thursday by the Associated Press – represents their first real breakthrough following decades of surveillance against a man they regard as Ireland’s most notorious untouchable.

History books and former IRA members have identified Murphy as a veteran IRA commander and one of Ireland’s biggest fuel smugglers, but he has never been charged with any crime.

The Criminal Assets Bureau said Murphy was not at home at his family’s farm Thursday morning when they tried to serve legal notices informing him of the money and other materials seized March 9 during a police raid on the property.

A detective, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the agency was actively trying to find Murphy and question him about the money and fuel-laundering equipment found on the property.

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