Two members of the gang that murdered Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe three years ago were involved in a drug smuggling operation in which two gardai and four members of the PSNI were injured before Christmas, it has emerged.
One of the gang is a nephew of a well-known local Provo who has moved from diesel laundering into cocaine smuggling.
He was present when Det Garda Donohoe was murdered in Dundalk in January 2013. He and the cousin of two of the other garda killers are believed to have been part of the operation to smuggle a large quantity of cocaine across the Border into south Armagh. It is believed the Provos are sourcing their cocaine from the Kinahan mob in Dublin to sell in the North.
A van and two decoy cars driven by young thugs working for the South Armagh IRA smugglers were involved in a series of incidents in which police cars on both sides of the Border were deliberately rammed to distract attention from the car believed to be moving the drugs.
The South Armagh Provos are believed to have moved into the highly profitable cocaine business after the introduction of a new type of dye in diesel at the start of this year severely cut their revenue from fuel smuggling.
Gardai and the PSNI have identified a key Provo smuggler who is believed to have been driving the Audi saloon car which was involved in moving the cocaine across the Border during the early hours of Sunday, December 18.
The gang leader is a son of a close associate of Provo boss Thomas 'Slab' Murphy.
The family is notorious in the Border area for violent intimidation and gangsterism, including attempts to force people out of their homes and property.
The main cocaine smuggler is also a cousin of two brothers, now living outside the country, who were involved in the robbery of the Lordship Credit Union in Dundalk during which Detective Garda Donohoe (41), married with two children, was murdered. No charges have been brought in the case.
Another associate of the gang, Adrian Creavan Mackin (24), also shot dead Garda Tony Golden (36), married with three children, in Omeath in October 2015. Mackin shot and seriously injured his ex-girlfriend before murdering Garda Golden.
He then committed suicide.
Two members of the gang who shot Det Garda Donohoe have continued to work for the IRA smugglers in south Armagh and gardai and PSNI believe they were involved in the cocaine smuggling operation that led to the Garda and PSNI injuries.
It is understood a decoy car driven by the gang was used to ram a Garda car close to the Border at Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan. Two gardai were injured though not seriously.
It is understood gardai notified the PSNI who set up checkpoints and stopped a stolen van at Lismore outside Crossmaglen. The PSNI were about to speak to the driver when another car came on the scene and crashed into the police car. Two officers were injured.
A short time later, at around 5am, the PSNI said two further police vehicles which were providing assistance to officers carrying out enquiries into the earlier incident at Lismore.
A dark coloured Audi A6, which was travelling on the Dundalk Road towards Crossmaglen, rammed two police cars after being signalled to stop, before making off. Four officers were left injured following this incident.
It is believed the Audi was being driven by the son of the local Provo millionaire smuggler.
This man is being sought by both police forces and is believed to be hiding in the Republic.
The PSNI said: "Following these two incidents we now have six officers, who were out working to keep the people of South Armagh safe, off work with their injuries and three police vehicles off the road."