Gardai believe they have smashed a major drug trafficking gang in the south east of the country after seizing a Glock pistol, cash and suspected cocaine.
Four men are in garda custody night after an intelligence led operation involving detective units from the Kilkenny-Carlow and Waterford divisions as well as heavily armed officers from the Emergency Response Unit.
Gardai say the gang is responsible for supplying cocaine and other drugs to counties Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford and south Tipperary.
Officers believe some of the organised crime gang were on their way to enforce a drugs debt when they intervened.
A car was stopped by the Emergency Response Unit in the Slieverue area of Kilkenny on Wednesday and during a search of the vehicle officers recovered a Glock pistol and over 40 rounds of ammunition.
Three men in the car, all from the Hillview area of Waterford city and aged in their 20s and 30s, were arrested at the scene.
They are being detained for questioning at Thomastown and Waterford garda stations under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act and can be held without charge for up to 72 hours.
Their periods of detention were extended today by Chief Supt Dominic Hayes.
Follow up searches were carried out at a house in Hillview in Waterford city where €33,000 in cash was seized and at a house near New Ross, on the Wexford-south Kilkenny border, where officers confiscated a quantity of cocaine, pending the outcome of an analysis, with a street value of €35,000.
A fourth suspect was arrested at the New Ross house.
Gardai say the organised crime group had been trying to establish itself as the main trafficking gang in the south east region in recent months and forcing smaller local outfits to come under its control and become part of its network.
It was also heavily involved in attempting to recover drug debts, a problem facing many of the gangs throughout the State and in Northern Ireland during the Covid-19 lockdown.