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Police corruption probe around 'Rathkeale Rover' travellers widens as three more officers ar

QUAINT: The sleepy town of Rathkeale is home to a huge population of travellers (YouTube)

A POLICE corruption probe concerning the Irish Traveller 'Rathkeale Rovers' gang was yesterday widened after three gardai were arrested. Two of the officers were arrested on suspicion of leaking information to senior members of the network about planned raids on them by the Irish Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB). The third is believed to have been recorded taking cocaine. They were released without charge but suspended from duty while the probe by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) continues. Properties in Rathkeale, County Limerick, which has a huge population of travellers, were also searched. It is understood that the three officers phones were being monitored and they were put under surveillance. The Rathkeale Rovers is an umbrella name for several groups of loosely connected traveller gangs who stem from the town and travel the globe carrying out a mix of shoddy business ventures through serious organised crime. Scams range from selling counterfeit goods to bitumen scams and fraud through to drugs, tobacco smuggling and trading in illegal rhino horns. The group has been a major target for Europol.

HUGE: The sprawling Dale Farm traveller site before half of it was cleared in 2011 (Len Gridley)

They also had members based at the controversial Dale Farm traveller site at Crays HIll, near Basildon, Essex, and Smithy Fen at Cottenham in Cambridgeshire. A Garda spokesman said: "A number of arrests have been made and a number of premises searched. "Three members of An Garda Síochána have been arrested. "A Garda Superintendent has been arrested for suspected breach of the provisions of section 62 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005. "A Garda Inspector has been arrested for suspected breach of provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977-84. "A member of Garda rank has been arrested for suspected conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."

PROBE: Deputy Commissioner John Twomey (An Garda)

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said: "An Garda ­Siochana is fully committed to investigating any alleged wrong-doing or corruption involving Garda personnel." In January, another Limerick-based detective, who investigated serious and organised crime, was arrested by the NBCI on suspicion of receiving 20,000 euros from the same gang in return for supplying information. The corruption probe began last October when a garda, aged in his 40s, was suspended on suspicion of supplying the travellers with bogus insurance certificates in return for cocaine. It was reported at the time that he was " used by the gang after they uncovered 'compromising' information on him." A Limerick Garda station and 16 homes were raided when documents, phones, computers and two cars were seized. It is believed he was involved with a woman connected to the gang.

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