A man shot dead in the bedroom of his home was the leader of a gang responsible for dozens of burglaries across the country.
Violent criminal Andy Connors (45) was a key target for Operation Fiacla, the nationwide garda crackdown on burglars.
His gang was blamed for a spate of burglaries in several counties over the past few years. In many cases they singled out elderly victims, who lived in isolated areas.
Mr Connors had 26 criminal convictions for a range of crimes, including theft and burglary.
He was shot three times in the upper chest with a 9mm handgun in the bedroom of his bungalow home at Boherboy, Saggart, in south county Dublin.
The killer, who wore a balaclava helmet, forced his way into the house at around 11pm on Tuesday night and confronted Mr Connors, who was standing in the bedroom.
The gunman fled from the house as Mr Connors slumped to the ground in a pool of blood.
The victim's wife, four of his children and a niece were in the bungalow at the time but were not hurt in the incident.
The children are aged between eight and 15 years.
Earlier in the night, Mr Connors had attended a wedding reception at the Hazel hotel in Monasterevin, Co Kildare.
Gardai are now trying to establish if he was kept under watch as he arrived home from the function.
Senior officers said a firm motive for the savage shooting had not yet emerged and acknowledged that Mr Connors had built up a long list of enemies.
He was known to have clashed in the past with members of other travelling gangs and had also fallen foul of an organised crime outfit based in the Tallaght area.
Investigating detectives are checking out local claims that the shooting could have been linked to a row between Mr Connors and a man with dissident connections, while it was also suggested that another member of the family had recently been threatened.
Mr Connors was a dealer in horses and caravans but his wealth attracted the attention of the Criminal Assets Bureau, whose officers carried out enquiries into his financial affairs and then presented him with a tax bill.
He opted to make a settlement with the agency for a substantial six-figure sum.
Further garda inquiries were under way last night in south and west Dublin as well as Co Kildare as detectives tried to build up a picture of the victim's movements and contacts over the previous few days.
Forensic experts were continuing their detailed examination of the house and surrounding land yesterday evening while house-to-house enquiries were carried out in the area.
Gardai appealed to anyone who saw unusual activity in the area between 11pm and 12pm on Tuesday, or were aware of his movements earlier in Monasterevin, to contact them at Tallaght station on 01 6666000, or on the confidential line, 1800 666111.