Fifty-two people have been arrested as part of an anti-crime operation in south Kilkenny and Carlow.

Drugs, fireworks and pepper spray were seized during searches of 22 premises in the area as part of Operation Thor.

Of the arrests, 18 people were detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, which deals with offences related to burglary, theft and the misuse of drugs.

Thirty people were arrested for outstanding court-related matters and four for the “purpose of charge” in connection with ongoing investigations, a garda spokesperson said.

Operation Thor was set up last year to target organised crime gangs and repeat offenders. This is the ninth such operation in the division.

Two weeks ago, 62 people were arrested in a similar operation.

Speaking earlier, Chief Superintendent Dominic Hayes said: "The objective of today’s operation is to disrupt criminals living in and travelling through Kilkenny/Carlow division and deter criminal activity and promote community engagement.

"This operation will also assist in the detection of criminal offences through proactive policing activities."

More than 140 garda were said to have been involved in the operation, along with 50 garda students from Templemore.

Gardaí arrest three as part of global operation

Gardaí arrested three people and searched 14 planes as part of an international investigation targeting organised crime.

Operation Ciconia Alba, which was focused on disrupting the most dangerous criminal networks currently active in Europe, took place last week in over 11,000 locations worldwide.

Officers say the operation has been a "major blow to organised crime groups operating across the European Union and beyond".

In total 386 people were arrested and 529 human trafficking victims were identified. 2.38 tonnes of cocaine were also seized.

Among the areas searched were red-light districts, brothels, massage parlours, private apartments, airports and immigration reception centres.

Gardaí took part in Global Airport Action between 11 and 13 October, which formed part of Operation Ciconia Alba, with the aim of countering fraudulent flight bookings using compromised payment card data. 

Three people were arrested. Two have been charged. Fourteen flights were searched at Dublin Airport, with a view to identifying indicators or victims of human trafficking. 

Information leaflets on human trafficking and contact details of human trafficking officers were given to any vulnerable persons identified.

As part of the wider operation, officers say they identified that trafficking networks originating in Nigeria, Asia and eastern Europe are the most active in the EU.

In one case, Austrian authorities discovered a cannabis plantation while performing checks at a brothel to identify potential victims of sexual exploitation.

The officers ordered the closure of the premises, which was being run as an illegal brothel, and a new investigation was initiated.

In another case, Europol was able to establish links between a payment card fraud case and a case on facilitating illegal immigration.

A fake travel agency in Greece that was facilitating the trafficking of human beings and illegal immigration was also uncovered.