GARDAI are hunting a crime gang's courier, who escaped after a consignment of firearms and drugs was intercepted by Customs officers.
Three handguns, including a machine pistol, were smuggled into the State under the seat of a car, which had been sent here on a low loader on a ferry that arrived at Dublin Port yesterday afternoon.
The English-registered vehicle was left at a service station at the port for collection.
Security staff at the station became suspicious and alerted Customs officers, who searched the vehicle.
Customs found the Glock, Sig and .38 Special pistols "deeply concealed" within the car and also uncovered a quantity of ammunition and one-and-a-half kilos of cannabis.
As they were searching the car, a man arrived in a taxi to collect it from the port.
He panicked when he spotted the activity around the car, jumped back into the taxi and sped off.
A description of the taxi was circulated to all garda units and it was spotted as it headed out of the city on to the Naas Road.
It was last seen near the Red Cow roundabout but then disappeared.
Last night, gardai said they had details of the taxi and were confident they could identify the courier from CCTV footage in the area.
They believe that the guns had been destined for a drug trafficking gang in the capital but that the man sent to collect the car was not a major player.
The guns were undergoing forensic analysis last night as inquiries into the discovery were stepped up by Customs and gardai at Store Street station.