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Thursday, 4 September 2008

weapons, 165 in total, were found following a planned raid on a metal factory in Amsterdam and searches at three houses.

Dutch police said today they are questioning three men and a woman after seizing a massive cache of weapons in Amsterdam as part of an international investigation into organised crime in Ireland.The 165 firearms were put on display in Amsterdam as gardaí in Dublin revealed arms seized as part of the same operation in Dublin on Tuesday night.The Dublin cache was described as the biggest haul of gangland weaponry in the history of the State following the four-month international operation into the activities of a leading Dublin criminal.Forty-one firearms, mostly destined for crime gangs in Dublin and Limerick, were seized in the operation which involved police and customs from the Republic, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.The investigation, codenamed Operation Bench, also resulted in the seizure of heroin and cannabis valued at €4.2 million in a car near Dublin airport on Tuesday.Some 27 weapons were found in the same vehicle with another 14 guns recovered in Belfast by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Ammunition for the weapons, totalling about 1,000 rounds, was also found.A total of three people were held by gardaí and another in Belfast.Police in Amsterdam said today they had also detained four after they found the weapons haul in an office building. It included Glock pistols, Steyr sub-machine guns and silencers.The men - aged 41, 42, and 53 - and a 27-year-old woman have not been identified, but Dutch police said they were arrested on suspicion of possession and sale of illegal firearms.The National Prosecutor’s Office said the arrests followed a tip-off from authorities in Northern Ireland who, along with the Garda, have led a crackdown on a drug and gun trafficking gang operating across Europe.The three arrested men are Dutch, while the woman is Brazilian.The weapons, 165 in total, were found following a planned raid on a metal factory in Amsterdam and searches at three houses.Seventy guns were found in plastic shopping bags lying in the back of a car in a car park beside the factory. The rest of the cache was found hidden in the basement. Thousands of rounds of ammunition were also seized.A spokesman for the Dutch National Prosecutor’s Office said: “A lot of the guns were brand new, including five machine guns.” Some €20,000 in cash was also seized by Dutch police.



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