Irish Traveller gang arrested for international crime spree - from theft of rhino horns to tarmac fraud

Europol director Rob Wainwright

Thirty members of an Irish Traveller’s crime network have been arrested in eight countries across Europe. Known as the “Rathkeale Rovers,” Europol believe they are involved in counterfeit products, tarmac fraud, robbery, money laundering and drug trafficking across the Americas, Asia and Australia.

As well as the 30 arrested, the Europe-wide investigation ended with $12 million (€9m) worth of tax demands on nine of the key members of the group.

The group, made up of several Traveller families is described by Europol, the EU police agency, as a “highly organized crime group.”

Read more: Irish Traveller crime gang targeted in US over stolen rhino horns

The operation, codenamed “Oakleaf,” was set up in November 2010, when Irish police sought Europol’s expertise in gathering data on the gang across Europe.

Europol director Rob Wainwright told the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin that the gang was comprised of “several close-knit clans." The groups had set up companies all over Europe to "legitimize and cover" their illegal activities.

Wainwright said they then laundered their illegal, undeclared income into new luxury cars and other assets in Ireland.

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