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Feuding dealer found gunned down in ditch

A DRUG-dealer was found gunned down near Dublin Airport yesterday in what gardai suspect is the latest chapter of a vicious gangland feud that has already claimed the life of his brother.

John Paul Joyce, in his late 20s, was found in a ditch at Dunbro Lane by a passer-by who saw blood in the snow at around 2pm.

He had been reported missing in recent days. Gardai launched a murder investigation and sealed off the area for forensics examination.

A post-mortem was due to be conducted by the State Pathologist's office.

Gardai are investigating a motive for the murder, but suspect it is linked to the drugs trade. John Paul Joyce and his brother Thomas were members of the Travelling community. They were known to gardai as criminal gangsters.

Thomas was gunned down at the age of 20, as he chatted to another man at the entrance to a halting site in north Dublin in June last year.

He was the youngest-ever target of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), having spent the proceeds of his three-year drug-dealing career on expensive cars and jewellery.

A year before Thomas's murder, John Paul Joyce was targeted in a gun attack outside a Dublin gym.

Mr Joyce was sitting in his car outside the gym when the gunman approached and fired several shots.

He survived the attack, staggering from his car to the gym, where the emergency services were called.

Mr Joyce was in prison at the time his brother was murdered last year, and had left the 20-year-old Thomas Joyce to run the drugs operation, according to garda sources.

Gardai believe that John Paul Joyce's death is the first gangland murder of the year.

Detectives had raided the Joyce gang on a number of occasions since 2007.

During one raid, detectives found a cocaine-mixing plant with quantities of the drug valued at €1.5m, as well as mixing agents, weighing scales and blenders. In another raid, cocaine valued at €75,000 and ammunition were discovered. The CAB had investigated both Thomas Joyce and his brother John Paul.

The High Court heard how Thomas Joyce had paid €70,000 in cash as part-payment for a Range Rover sports model at the age of 19. He also owned a BMW car.

In February 2008, officers from the CAB raided their halting site, where they found €3,000 worth of cocaine.

The Range Rover and BMW were seized.

At the time of Thomas's murder in June last year, the gang had made a number of enemies. Thomas Joyce was suspected of supplying the gun that was used in another gangland shooting.

At the time gardai were investigating whether Thomas Joyce was shot in retaliation.

Gardai will now be investigating whether that feud led to the shooting dead of his brother John Paul in Dublin this weekend.

Sunday Independent