A 46-year-old man has been jailed for seven years for laundering more than €3.5m for one of the country's most significant organised crime gangs.

Darren Hoey, of Oak Drive, Ballacollig, Mountmellick Co Laois, was arrested after gardaí from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau seized almost €700,000 at that address, and more than €2.8 million and sterling at a cottage near Lisselton, Co Kerry.

Hoey was arrested after gardaí from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau saw him take two bags of cash from an Audi A4 car and bring them into a cottage near Lisselton in north Kerry, which he had bought as a holiday home.

Detectives found a further six bags of cash in the base of a bed in the house, to bring the total amount seized there to over €2.7 million, and more than £94,000 in sterling.

A search of Hoey's home in Co Laois yielded another €694,000.

Together it is the largest cash seizure by gardaí in the history of the State.

Hoey pleaded guilty to money laundering and other charges when he came before the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee today.

Detective Garda Liam Brennan told the court that Hoey was a trusted and responsible figure in a significant organised crime gang operating in this country.

He said Hoey was trusted with collecting, counting, packaging and overseeing large amounts of cash for export to buy drugs abroad, before the drugs were transported to this country.

The court was told that a ledger found at Hoey's home tracked the movement of almost €18m between July and September last year.

Judge Helen Boyle sentenced Hoey to a total of eight years in jail, with one year suspended.

She said she was told by Defence Barrister Brian McInerney that Hoey had got "sucked into" drugs following his mother's death.

Speaking afterwards, Detective Superintendent Dave Gallagher said money was the life blood of organised crime and gardaí will continue to target people who are willing to operate as facilitators.

Hoey's sentence was back-dated to his arrest last September.