Cartel hitman 'The Butcher' stalked north inner city day before arrest
- Imre Arakas (59) was spotted the day before his arrest on a reconnaissance mission in the north inner city
- Arakas had visited Dublin a number of months before the foiled murder plot
- The criminal finally pleaded guilty after a number of adjournments in the case - and will be sentenced at the end of this month
A notorious Estonian criminal, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder a key member of the Hutch gang for the Kinahan cartel, was busted after a massive garda surveillance operation.
We can reveal:
- Imre Arakas (59) was spotted the day before his arrest on a reconnaissance mission in the north inner city close to the home of Patsy Hutch, Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch's brother.
- Gardai had to quickly photograph screen grabs from the criminal's "self-wiping" encrypted Blackberry phone which gave details of the murder plot against James 'Mago' Gately before all information was remotely wiped by another gang member.
- Arakas had visited Dublin a number of months before the foiled murder plot but quickly left the country after being stopped and searched at Dublin Airport.
- Gardai are building a case against a ruthless Clondalkin criminal who was in contact with the hitman when he was in Ireland and who was passing him information about the target from a key Kinahan cartel figure then based in Spain.
Arakas was one of three criminals detained by officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau at a property in Blakestown, west Dublin, on April 3, 2017.
He has been in custody ever since and yesterday, at the non-jury Special Criminal Court, he admitted to conspiring with others not before the court to murder James Gately in the North between April 3 and April 4 last year, contrary to Section 71 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006.
Arakas had been in Ireland for less than 48 hours before he was arrested and was under constant surveillance by specialist gardai as soon as he landed here after officers received key information about his role in a plot to kill James 'Mago' Gately.
It can be disclosed that Arakas (59), nicknamed 'The Butcher', was spotted by watching detectives walking on foot close to the home of major Kinahan cartel target Patsy Hutch, the brother of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch.
Gardai believe that Arakas was also prepared to target Patsy as well as 'Mago' Gately while in Ireland in April, 2017.
"He was observed on a reconnaissance mission in the north inner city and he was seen very close to the home of Patsy Hutch who has been targeted unsuccessfully by the Kinahan cartel on a number of occasions - it is clear that Arakas was not in that area for a stroll.
"However, all the information is that his primary target was James 'Mago' Gately," a source explained.
It's understood he could have banked up to €100,000 from the Kinahan cartel for taking out 'Mago' and was hired after the cartel grew tired of botched murder attempts carried out by lower-level criminals.
After his arrest, officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) discovered that he was using an encrypted Blackberry device which a senior source yesterday described as a "self-wiping phone".
"The phone had been programmed so that all the information in it could be wiped remotely by someone else if he got arrested," the senior source explained.
"However, officers from the DOCB were able to quickly take screen grabs of the phone messages before the device wiped itself, which were later used to build a detailed case against Mr Arakas.
"The encrypted messages that he was receiving contained key information about the movements of 'Mago' Gately in Northern Ireland, his location and when and where to actually carry out the murder.
"The information was coming to Arakas from a man who is at the highest levels of the Kinahan cartel and who was then based in Spain.
"However, the messages were not being sent directly to Arakas by this cartel figure - he was using a Clondalkin criminal now aged 37 to deal with the Estonian on his behalf."
The Clondalkin criminal - who is heavily involved in a separate gangland feud in his own locality - was arrested in August of last year in relation to the murder plot after gardai linked him to Arakas.
He was later released without charge after being questioned for a number of days at Irishtown Garda Station and a file on his role in the alleged involvement in the murder plot has been sent to the DPP.
It can also be revealed that Arakas had previously travelled to Ireland on behalf of the Kinahan cartel a number of months before he was busted for conspiring to murder 'Mago' Gately.
"He did not stay too long on the first occasion. He was stopped by gardai in Dublin Airport after getting off a flight with suspicious items in his possession including wigs, disguise and a telescope and left the country within hours," a senior source said.
"The next time he arrived back in the country a decision was made not to stop him in the airport but to keep him under complete surveillance and he was arrested around 48 hours later," the source added.
The criminal, whose address was given in the Special Criminal Court yesterday as Sopruse, Tallinn, Estonia, finally pleaded guilty after a number of adjournments in the case and will be sentenced on November 30.
Yesterday's court hearing was delayed for around half an hour after the prison van transporting him to court broke down on its way from Portlaoise Prison to the courts complex in Dublin.