Police, soldiers and customs officials from both parts of Ireland launched a dawn raid Thursday on the border home of the Irish Republican Army's alleged chief of staff, Thomas "Slab" Murphy.

At least 400 soldiers and officers from the Garda Siochana, Ireland's national police, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland converged on several properties in the so-called "bandit country" borderland. Among the first properties targeted was Murphy's border-straddling farm. Police reported no immediate arrests.

An anti-racketeering detective, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the operation was partly a follow-up trawl for documentation into alleged IRA money-laundering.

The detective said the raids hoped to identify links to a portfolio of properties in Manchester, England, that were frozen last September on suspicion of having been purchased by IRA proceeds. One of Murphy's brothers has admitted he owns some of those properties but denies any link to the IRA.

Murphy has never been convicted of any crime, but anti-terrorist police and several published histories of the IRA identify him as the outlawed group's longtime chief of staff.

In 1985, The Sunday Times newspaper of London published a major investigation into Murphy that identified him as a millionaire smuggler and a pivotal figure in plotting bomb attacks. Murphy sued for libel but lost twice. In 1998, a Dublin jury ruled he was an IRA commander and a smuggler.