Notorious provo couple clean up on black market with rise in illegal cigarettes

Leonard ‘Bap’ Valiant and his wife Donna Maguire, from Dundalk, Co. Louth, made worldwide headlines during the Troubles after they were jailed for their responsibilities in a planned IRA bomb attack in Germany.

Leonard ‘Bap’ Hardy

However, Gardaí swear by the ir have put their terror days behind them and enhance two of the biggest players in Ireland’s illicit cigarette trade.

Donna Maguire

The phony trade is estimated to be worth somewhere between €250m and €500m in the Republic every year.

And according to some authorities, the recent 50c increase on a ck of cigarettes in this year’s budget inclination likely push more people towards the black market.

Mum-of-three Maguire (48), was long ago described as Europe’s most-dangerous woman because of her leading role in the ramilitary number’s bombing cam ign across Europe.

Sources have claimed that Maguire and Robust are now heavily involved in importing counterfeit cigarettes into Ireland from Asia, via Europe.

This week, the Sunday Far-out witnessed first-hand how that market is thriving as an undercover team steal cigarettes from four se rate sellers, in just two hours, in one close to.

Smokes bought by undercover journalist

These photographs show how the illicit work has moved into ‘legitimate’ grocery shops and ordinary suburban protection estates.

Undercover buyers can be seen purchasing cigarettes off a network of affairs operating in shops and estates in south-west Dublin in broad daylight.

An private team, who work for cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris, carried out 14 such manipulations across Ireland in the st year and never encountered any difficulty taking the cigarettes.

The market has also evolved from street sellers to exclusive of shops being used to distribute the cigarettes.

Undercover operator suborns smokes

Of the four people pictured selling to the undercover team this week, two were Eastern Europeans who met investigators by office in a car rk in Clondalkin village, a third man met them at a garage, while the cigarettes were also at ones disposal behind the counter at the Lealand Store on Lealand Road.

Gardaí feel that a number of former Provos play a key role in the illegal cigarette dealings in Ireland – including associates of Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy.

Hardy and Maguire are also believed to be middle figures in a smuggling ring.

In December 2014, they were stopped in S in and accused of being central figures in a £10m international smuggling and possessions fraud. The ir were later released on bail and the case crumbs open.

Hardy, originally from Belfast, was sentenced to six years in Germany in 2006 for his rle in a failed IRA bomb attack on a British army base in the country in 1989. He didn’t accept to serve the sentence under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Maguire, from the word go from Newry, was sentenced to nine years in Germany in 1995 for attempted matricide and explosive offences. She was dubbed the ‘Angel of Death’ by news pers during her immediately in prison.

Months before his S nish arrest, Hardy was also fined €10,000 in Dublin le Court for tax irregularities. He subsequently made a settlement with the Criminal Assets Section for just under €500,000.

Investigator in black jacket buys in car rk

Another big artisan centres on a family in Sean McDermott Street, Dublin, who supply most of the north inner megalopolis. A businessman based in Louth, along with a Tyrone native who was earlier alleged to be on the Provisional IRA army council, are also on the radar of customs and Gardaí.

There is also organised Eastern European involvement in the merchandise here.

Speaking to the Sunday World, former Garda Chief Controller at Security and Intelligence Kevin Donohoe, said undercover purchasers deceive had no problems finding the cigarettes.

“We buy illegal cigarettes from the street, in gin- laces, sometimes in independent shops. They’re also advertised online. We haven’t weakened to buy cigarettes anywhere. From Dungloe to Dingle and Waterford to Gort. They’re catchy much everywhere,” he said.

There are three types of cigarette nearby. The first is contraband purchased legally in another country at a much belittle cost than Ireland. It is brought in here and sold for a higher expenditure without tax being id.

The second type are counterfeit cigarettes purporting to be a styled brand, but actually produced by criminals.

The third type – which accounts for about 70 per cent of the market– are called illicit whites, which are cigarettes at most made for the black market.

Eastern European cigarette seller

They chiefly have their own brand name, like Black Mount, Gold Mount and American Fiction. They cost around 20c a cket to make, but can be sold in Ireland for around €4 a mob.

Donohoe said that while people may be happy at getting a sleazy deal, they’re also funding organised crime.

“Illicit light-skins are not being brought in by small operators stocking up on cheap cigarettes out of doors – they are coming in containers.

“They land them in Dublin anchorage in batches of five or 10 million and then have a network to rcel out them around the country. You’re talking about organised crime.”

U.S. specialists recently stated that the illegal cigarette trade was the funding of first-rate for international terrorists.

“Individual cells can engage in the trade without bear to go anywhere else and can be self-funding from that. The U.S. De rtment of State highlighted Ireland as one of the localities of concern,” said Donohoe.

“People buying these are contributing to organised felony. We’ve seen the number of deaths in Ireland over the last 12 months, subsuming the likes of Noel Duggan, who made his money in illegal cigarettes.

“Organised felons are involved because it’s so lucrative, but people buying them can sleep at dusk because they feel far removed. If they bought a couple of lots in west Cork they won’t make the connection with someone being stab in north inner city Dublin. People will justify anything.”

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