Wednesday 21 February 2018

Gardai's undercover drugs sting is aborted after leaks in media


AN expensive garda under-cover operation into one of the capital's biggest drugs gangs has been aborted after a media leak threatened to blow the cover of a team of undercover detectives.

Five undercover agents who infiltrated the gang linked to the Crumlin drug dealer Fat Freddie were ordered to pull out last week, five months into the ambitious operation, codenamed Trident. The details leaked when gardai arrested 29 suspects on foot of information generated by the undercover Trident operatives.

The sweep was picked up by newspapers – some of which also reported details of the garda sting that led to the series of arrests. On viewing the media leak, garda management feared that their undercover agents were on the brink of being exposed – and ordered them out immediately. The operation is believed to have cost the force thousands and was a year in the planning.

Five male and female detectives were set up with new identities and moved into houses leased in locations where the gang operated. They took up their undercover roles after Christmas, and started out infiltrating the gang from the ground up.

In an operation reminiscent of American crime drama The Wire, they posed as addicts and street dealers before working their way up to the higher echelons of the gang. To maintain their cover, they had to buy and sell drugs from street dealers and even get arrested to prove their credentials with the drugs gang.

The investigation moved into arrest phase last week when the Garda National Drugs Unit and local gardai searched 30 houses and made 29 arrests.

According to a source, gardai had planned to keep their agents in situ for another month.

They did not believe that their cover was blown, as they had moved up the gang's "food chain" and hoped to have gathered enough evidence to incriminate some of the gang's most senior figures.

The information leaked out last Wednesday and Thursday after local gardai and the Garda National Drugs Unit arrested 29 criminals as the investigation moved into arrest phase.

The entire operation was run in close contact with the DPP, to prevent potential legal problems further down the line.

Irish Independent

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