A criminal suspected of running an intimidation campaign against witnesses in the murder of a teenager was the intended target of a foiled shooting in Dublin.
Two men including a taxi driver were arrested after armed gardaí stopped a number of cars near Tallaght on Tuesday night.
A loaded revolver was also seized by detectives from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) along with a vehicle bearing bogus number plates.
Gardaí feared that a shooting was about to be carried out before they intervened and made the arrests.
The planned hit is linked to a local feud in the south Dublin area and a Tallaght criminal is believed to have been the intended target.
The man, who is well-known to local gardaí, is also suspected of being involved in the intimidation of witnesses in the murder of teenager Reece Cullen in 2017.
A close associate of this week's target is the chief suspect in Reece's fatal stabbing, but no one has ever been charged with the innocent teen's murder.
A source said: "This individual is a big player in a few areas of Tallaght and put serious pressure on potential witnesses in that investigation but has come under threat himself from other criminals in recent weeks.
"He has become increasingly paranoid and gardaí also have information that he himself has access to firearms. The situation has become very volatile," the source added.
Gardaí believe the attempt on the Tallaght criminal's life is linked to a dispute with another man from Crumlin which has been simmering in recent months.
He was one of the men arrested on Tuesday, and the up-and-coming Crumlin drug dealer has been involved in a separate local feud in the past. A relative of this man also survived an attempt on his life in Clondalkin a number of years ago.
This week's operation involved members of the DOCB, the Special Crime Task Force and gardaí from Special Tactics and Operations Command.
The two men, aged 51 and 22, were arrested under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939 and taken to separate garda stations.
Several follow up searches were also carried out on Wednesday in the capital.
Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, who has charge of the Garda Síochána’s response to Organised and Serious Crime, yesterday said the incident could have resulted in a fatality if gardaí hadn't intervened.
"The Garda Síochána believes, through the actions of the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau, supported by other specialist units, we have again intervened in a threat to life situation that was likely to result in the death of at least one person.
"The members of the Garda Síochána involved are to be commended for bringing this operation to a successful conclusion by seizing a loaded firearm and arresting suspects," Mr O'Driscoll added.