TWO Romanian men involved in a sophisticated Easter European crime gang have been sent to prison.
Ioan Barbuc (25, pictured above) and Andrei Cecan (32), both with an address at Glenoughty Close, Letterkenny, were jailed for a variety of offences, including forgery and ID theft, after appearing at Letterkenny Circuit Court.
Judge John Aylmer described as ‘a forgery workshop’, the scene detectives happened upon when they raided the address at 7.30am on April 16, 2019.
Fiona Crawford BL, prosecuting, said officers from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation were involved in an investigation into an Eastern European organised crime group.
Detective Sergeant Michael Galvin said the front door of the premises was lying opened when officers arrived at the house, in which were three Romanian males.
“The house was full of such documents,” Det Sgt Galvin said.
A large amount of electronic devices, documents pertaining to ID fraud and items of electronic equipment used in ID fraud were found.
“This was a professional and organised criminal operation of a sophisticated nature and one designed for international criminal purposes,” Judge Aylmer said.
Barbuc and Cecan were arrested and brought to Letterkenny and Milford Garda Stations.
Charges were not brought against the third man in the house.
Barbuc was charged with possession of a stolen UK driving licence. He was also charged with possession of a forged Romanian national ID card and of possessing articles – laminate paper and photographic paper – which had been designed or adapted for the making of forged documents.
Barbuc spoke through an interpreter to plead guilty to all of the charges.
Cecan was charged with possession of a stolen Irish passport and public services card. He was further charged with having a false Romanian driving licence and a false Romanian ID card.
Cecon pleaded guilty to the offences.
Cecan – who has been in custody since April – told Gardaí that he had brought the Romanian ID card from a ‘friend of a friend’ for €200 on the black market in Dublin.
The Romanian driving licence and the Romanian ID card, which bore names other than Cecan’s, both bore the defendant’s picture. The Irish passport and public services card were stolen in Dublin in March 2018.
Det Sgt Galvin said that there was a ‘more senior individual involved in this criminal network’.
Barrister for Cecan, Mr Sean McGee BL, said his client came from a ‘very ordinary family’ in Romania. He said that a ‘bright new future’ had come up on the horizon for Cecan, who was living rough in London when he ran into an individual who was involved in fraudulent activity.
“He saw that as a way out,” Mr McGee said. “He found himself in a difficult situation and he chose the wrong path.”
Cecan’s role was described by Judge Aylmer as being ‘less serious’.
“Nevertheless, he supported this enterprise for the purposes of his upkeep,” Judge Aylmer said.
Cecan, a single man, has previous offences in Germany, Netherlands, England and Northern Ireland for a range of crimes such as theft, attempted theft, fraud including swindling, possession of articles for use in fraud and making false representation in order to make a gain.
Judge Aylmer sentence Cecan to 16 months imprisonment and the term will be back-dated to April 16, 2019.
Barbuc was sentenced to two years and 10 months with his term also back-dated to the date of his arrest.
Following their release, the men will be deported to Romania and be excluded from re-entering Ireland for a ten-year period.