GARDAI investigating the activities of a black-market street trader in Dublin uncovered a suspected counterfeit prosthetics factory.
The huge haul is believed to be the biggest artificial arms find in Europe and represents a major blow for the black-market prosthetics industry.
The contraband limbs, including 437 left arms, 314 right arms, two left feet, a glass eye and over 145 plastic fingers and thumbs, were discovered in two separate locations in Coolock, North county Dublin. Gardai believe the fake body parts were destined for black market car boot sales across the continent.
A Garda spokesman said the limbs were home-made and very realistic.
“You’d swear they were the real thing. They came in all skin colours too. This was a very clever operation indeed.” stated Detective Gerome Tyrone.
The discoveries come in the wake of the arrests in Northern Ireland of nine suspected amputees from the republic. They were arrested in connection with a suspected plot to buy prosthetic limbs from the Fake IRA (FIRA), the group responsible for numerous hoax bomb treats in the North.
The most recent find came after an investigation into a rogue trader called James Murphy, with an address in Coolock, following reports that he was trying to sell arms to a private rehabilitation clinic in Monkstown.
Gardai immediately launched a high-powered investigation after a tip off from a staff member at the clinic.
A warehouse was later searched and it turned out to be a very sophisticated counterfeit prosthetics factory. At a second location close the the site, gardai discovered several Russian-made knee-caps, a crate of 70’s style Afro wigs and a 200 boxes of fake vagina’s.
Gardai believe the vagina’s were not very realistic and were probably destined for the American Internet market.
But the finds have given rise to fears, that for the first time, rogue traders like Murphy now have the engineering capability to manufacture a wide range of counterfeit body parts.
Dr. Harold Maloney, a prosthetics expert, said today: ‘Because these counterfeits are not made to order it can cause huge problems for the wearer. Normally it would take several months to get the right shape and fit for the amputee as each injury is different. This kind of black market commodity is only hurting the consumer.’
Maloney also advised that suspected counterfeit prosthetics, most likely to have been made in a back alley factories, are funding terrorist groups like the fake IRA.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen congratulated gardai on the “significant find”.
“It is imperative that the people involved in the illegal prosthetics industry be brought to justice.” said Mr Cowen.