Tuesday 25 June 2019

Gardaí seized 29 firearms and €71m of drugs in year-long crackdown on gangs

Assistant Garda Commissioner John O’Driscoll. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Assistant Garda Commissioner John O’Driscoll. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

The officer leading the Garda crackdown on organised crime in Dublin is hopeful they can repeat the successes they achieved in ending the gang feuds in Limerick.

Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Driscoll, who is in charge of special crime operations, said the activities of the Kinahan and Hutch gangs in the past couple of years had posed a threat to the security of the State on a par with dissident republicans.

Mr O'Driscoll was commenting as he reviewed a year in which members of the Garda drugs and organised crime bureau (DOCB) seized 29 firearms with 1,800 rounds of assorted ammunition, and drugs with an estimated street value of €71m.

He told the Irish Independent: "We can't be sure how long it will take to stop the feuding but we are hopeful we are over the worst of it. The murder earlier this month of Kane McCormack is a reminder that the feuding has not stopped.

"But we have made a number of very important captures and interventions this year."

Mr O'Driscoll said that at the time of the murder of David Byrne in the Regency Hotel, on the northside of the capital, in February 2016, there were suggestions of slaughter on the streets as the feud escalated.

But while there had been more feud-related deaths since, there had been a significant fall-off in the gangs' activities.

The deadly feuding in Limerick lasted for more than a decade after it erupted in 2000, and was ended by gardaí after saturation patrolling and targeted surveillance and investigations.

Mr O'Driscoll said he believed gardaí had dealt major blows to the capacity of gangs to operate.

He added: "We can guarantee that during 2018 we will continue to seize drugs, keep up our armed patrols and target members of criminal groups, particularly at the higher echelons, in a manner that is unprecedented."

Since it was established in March 2015, DOCB has seized 68 firearms, including 36 handguns, six machine guns, seven assault and two other rifles, and 10 stun guns.

Some of the captured weapons were high-powered and described as military grade.

One of the guns seized is an eastern European Baikal pistol, which can be bought for under €1,500 from crime gangs in England, where it became known as "the hitman's kit".

Seized in a recent DOCB operation was a Beretta, which became the official sidearm for the US military in the 1980s.

After stopping a car in Cabra, Dublin, in November 2016, DOCB officers searched the boot and uncovered two Brugger and Thomet MP9 machine pistols, similar to those used by the Swiss special forces. Also recovered were silencers.

"These are an example of the type of weaponry they can acquire," the assistant commissioner said.

The Garda specialist units have saved 44 lives in the greater Dublin area since the Regency Hotel murder, 20 of them last year, and 24 in 2017.

More than half of the €71m worth of drugs seized in 2017 was found in a combined operation with the Revenue drugs team at Dublin Port in January, when they recovered 1,900kg of cannabis herb in a shipment labelled tractor parts. It was valued at around €37m.

Mr O'Driscoll said the specialist units were also dealing with other crime gangs, who might not be at the top of the scale, but also posed a significant threat.

The Garda investigation into the murder of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe, in January 2013, remains a top priority, he added.

Irish Independent

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