Two members of Ireland’s infamous Dead Zoo gang placed on Interpol’s Red
Eamon Dillon, Sunday World
September 5, 2022
Two members of Ireland’s infamous Dead Zoo gang have been placed on
Interpol’s Red Notice list as being wanted in France.
Both men were sentenced to prison at a trial in Rennes last year for their
roles in a €13 million plot to smuggle rhino horns and elephant tusks out
of the country.
Tom Greene (34) singled out as being the ringleader got a three-year
sentence while Richard O’Riley (36), described as his brother, got a
one-year sentence. The Interpol notice describes both men as being British
born and wanted in France for smuggling endangered species.
While a photo of Greene was published along with the notice which appears
to be taken in a police station in 2013, there is none available for
Interpol can’t force authorities to arrest someone and the Red Notice
system is used to just alert police in member countries about international
fugitives. They can be used to support extradition proceedings after an
arrest has been made and have been known to result in fugitives being
brought to justice years after their offence.
During the trial, which was held in their absence, it emerged how police
used phone taps and surveillance to nab four members of the Dead Zoo Gang.
It also highlighted how the gang made connections to sell the goods to the
illicit Asian medicine market with four Franco-Chinese men convicted over
the illegal export scheme.
Greene got a three-year sentence despite the public prosecutor calling for
a six-year term and referring to him as ‘a hunter without a rifle’ and the
gang’s ‘sales rep’.
The investigation began after a random motorway stop by police in Poitiers
in September 2015 that led to the discovery of several elephant tusks and
€32,800 cash in a car. The occupants of the BMW, who claimed they were
antique dealers, were the four Irish men with addresses in the UK and
Then in May 2016, investigators seized 14 raw ivory tusks of African origin
and two carved tusks at a warehouse in Seine-Saint-Denis, north Paris.
Greene and O’Riley were arrested again with a rhinoceros horn weighing 14.7
kg at a hotel near Paeris in November, 2016.
The two other Irish men named in the court proceedings, Edward Gammel (34)
and Daniel McCarthy (30), were also convicted for their parts and given
suspended sentences. Fines of up to €200,000 were also imposed on each of
the men and they could face extra time in prison for not paying if arrested
French police also discovered that ivory and rhino horn were being turned
into powder, flakes, and on French soil before being exported to Vietnam
and China where they are used in traditional medicine.
A Chinese businessman David Ta (51) was given two years for his part in
exporting the horns and tusks.
Photos in Mr Ta's phone had enabled investigators to count 62 tusks that
passed through his company between November 2015 and April 2016.
Three other Chinese men were also convicted for their parts in the
smuggling ring including one described as Greene’s biggest customer.
A conservation campaigner in France previously told the Sunday World that
she hoped authorities would follow up on the men’s convictions and
sentences. Charlotte Nithart, president of the Robin des Bois said: “Arrest
warrants have been issued for them and we hope that the Irish authorities
will cooperate as they did with the US authorities in the case of John
Slattery, ex-John Flynn.”
Slattery, from Rathkeale, had previously been arrested in France where he
used the name Flynn, before returning to Ireland from where he was
extradited to the United States for rhino horn trafficking.
He has since served his time and returned to Ireland in August 2020.
The smuggling plot dealt with in Rennes shows the Dead Zoo gang were still
operating despite a number of men being sent to jail in the UK in early
2016. They had been accused of stealing artefacts from museums, including
rhino horn objects, worth a staggering st£57 million.
Those convicted included cousins Richard Sheridan and Richard ‘Kerry’
O’Brien jr who both have served time in both the UK and the United States
for their roles in the gang in illegally buying and exporting rhino horns.
The last known rhino horn theft came in Ireland in 2014 when burglars broke
into the home of mega-star Michal Flatley in Co Cork.