It is feared a mother-of-three will lose the sight in one of her eyes after she was kidnapped, held against her will for hours and subjected to a savage assault.
The 48-year-old woman was being treated in the Mater Hospital last night where medics were trying to save her sight as well as dealing with serious head injuries and bruises all over her body.
Gardai are following a definite line of inquiry in relation to the attack, which unfolded in the Muirhevnamor estate in Dundalk, Co Louth, on Wednesday.
It is understood that the respected woman was lured to a house in the estate at around midday on Wednesday as part of a campaign of harassment by a local drugs gang.
"She was held against her will for a number of hours in this property. She was given a severe hiding. It is really bad what that woman suffered, including bad head injuries," a senior source said.
"As part of this ordeal she was beaten over the head with a blunt force object. This object has caused her potentially life-changing injuries to one of her eyes."
After the woman managed to escape from her kidnappers on Wednesday evening, she was taken to Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda but then later transferred to the facility in Dublin because of the nature of her injuries.
Despite her injuries the woman was able to give a full statement to investigators who were last night still trying to establish the exact chain of events that led to the woman being kidnapped at lunchtime on Wednesday.
It has emerged the woman had been the victim of a campaign of harassment in recent weeks which involved being assaulted in public, as well as receiving verbal threats.
None of these incidents were reported to gardai at the time.
Gardai have identified the local drugs gang behind the attacks and on Thursday night armed officers searched two houses and seized a car as part of the investigation.
It can also be revealed that the 37-year-old chief suspect was in custody last night in Dundalk Garda Station after he was arrested for separate drugs offences on Thursday.
Gardai are preparing a file for the DPP in relation to the seizure of ecstasy tablets from the man but were able to re-arrest him for "false imprisonment and assault" for the other alleged offences.
A manhunt is also in place for a 30-year-old mother-of-five who sources say was "centrally involved" in the incident. She has multiple previous convictions and is on bail in relation to cocaine dealing charges.
"Gardai are following a definite line of inquiry in this case. More arrests and charges are very much expected," a senior source said last night.
The 37-year-old chief suspect recently spent a lengthy spell behind bars for an extortion during which threats were made to murder a man and his family with a firearm.
Other members of the suspect's family are also heavily involved in criminality and drug dealing.
The suspect was previously a major target of slain hero detective Adrian Donohoe, but he is not a suspect in that January 2013 murder.
He is a key member of an "utterly ruthless and completely violent" Traveller crime gang, according to sources.
The female victim who was last night fighting for her sight is not a member of the Traveller community and her family are well known in the Dundalk area.