Kinahan gang targeted Patsy Hutch in foiled hit in Dublin city centre
Gardai intercept gang armed with sub-machine gun, pistol and revolver
GUNMEN linked to the Kinahan drugs cartel were planning to assassinate a member of the Hutch family by tricking him into leaving his home in Dublin's north inner city, Gardai suspect.
Gardai believe the gang was planning an attack on Patsy Hutch, the brother of former criminal Gerry Hutch. Patsy Hutch has no connection to crime.
Patsy's son, Gary, was shot dead by the Kinahan gang in Spain in 2015, triggering the gangland feud that has so far claimed at least 13 lives.
In the latest Garda strike against the cartel, detectives intercepted the gang, preventing the most recent attempt by the Kinahan gang to wipe out the Hutches.
Three men armed with a sub-machine gun, an automatic pistol and a revolver were arrested in a van in the car park of an apartment block on Gardiner Street in Dublin city centre at 8am yesterday.
A fourth man aged in his 40s was arrested later and searches were conducted in the north inner city and in north, west and south Dublin.
In the follow-up searches, two additional firearms were found, including a machine gun. A silencer and a quantity of ammunition were also found.
Gardai suspect the gang had planned to cause a disturbance with the aim of drawing Mr Hutch out of his home in the north inner city.
Patsy Hutch has survived numerous death threats and has been repeatedly warned by detectives that his life is in danger.
His son, Gary, was murdered by the Kinahan gang in Spain in September 2015. Six months later, the gun attack at the Regency Hotel, believed to be in revenge for that shooting, marked the outbreak of murder, mostly on the streets of the north inner city. Most of the murders are chalked up to the Kinahan cartel, including two innocent victims who had no association with either side in the dispute.
The last victim of the feud was Derek Coakley-Hutch, who was shot in January as he sat in a car in a halting site beside Cloverhill Prison in west Dublin. He was a nephew of Gerry and Patsy Hutch.
At a vigil held in the north inner city after his murder, a crowd of 600 people gathered in support of the Hutch family and marched through the streets. Eddie, a taxi driver and brother of Gerry and Patsy Hutch, was murdered in February 2016.
Gerry Hutch has fled the country and gone into hiding, but his brother has refused to leave his north inner city home.
Gardai have scored a string of successful strikes against the Kinahan gang over the past year, following an injection of resources into the Special Crime Operations branch.
Kinahan has lost millions of euros in potential drugs earnings here, either as a result of cash seizures by gardai or in intercepted drugs shipments.
Money-laundering operations have been shut down and assets have been seized from Kinahan associates by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
In a statement yesterday, Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll said gardai had intervened in 45 allegedly planned assassinations by organised crime gangs.
He said yesterday's arrests were the result of resources being allocated to special operations and security and intelligence.
"Those within the world of organised crime who display a total disregard for human life remain within our focus and we are determined to cause them to be arrested, charged and where the courts determine there is sufficient evidence, convicted and incarcerated within our prisons," he said.
He also complimented gardai who he said "continuously display an extraordinary level of commitment, professionalism and also bravery, when given difficult assignments, such as that which today, has once again, resulted in the potential saving of human life and the arrest of those, who allegedly, while fully armed, where determined to murder".
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "I commend the Gardai for their decisive actions in Dublin city centre in an operation in which three firearms were seized and three men arrested.
"This morning's operation showed the continued determination of the Government and Gardai to target serious crime and all those involved in it."