Gardaí believe they have cracked an international crime gang following the recovery of around €250,000 worth of jewellery and the arrests of three men in Co Laois last Friday.

The three men, who are Romanian nationals, were arrested during an intelligence led Garda operation at Ballaghmore near the Tipperary border.

Two of the men are aged 27, while the other is 31 years old.

They are still being questioned at Portlaoise, Tullamore and Athlone Garda Stations.

Gardaí are now investigating whether there is any connection between the men and around 100 burglaries which have netted a gang an estimated €2 million.

Gardaí are also liaising with Europol and other international police forces following last Friday's operation.

The planned search operation in Co Laois, carried out under warrant by the divisional task force from Laois-Offaly backed up by detectives from Tullamore, Nenagh and Portlaoise, is being viewed as very significant by gardaí.

A car was seized at the location and the jewellery which was recovered had been packed in black plastic containers, wrapped in duct tape and was ready for transportation.

The haul had been stolen from a jewellers shop in Athlone's Golden Island Shopping Centre in Co Westmeath during Storm Emma.

Burglars cut a hole in the shopping centre roof and removed CCTV footage during the burglary, which was not discovered until the morning of Saturday 3 March.

The three men are being under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act and can be held for up to seven days.