White Christmas: Criminal caught with €50k of heroin is selling Christmas trees
A notorious criminal who was caught red-handed cutting up heroin on a kitchen table has been selling Christmas trees from his home.
Brian Collopy (43) remained in garda custody last night after armed detectives raided a house in Limerick city and found him, and his brother Kieran (40), sorting the drugs for sale in the region.
Cocaine and cannabis worth a combined €6,000 was recovered in follow-up searches.
The Collopy brothers are leading gang members in Limerick and have been caught up in the city's gangland feuding.
Father-of-four Brian Collopy was released from prison last December for witness intimidation of a former associate.
Over recent weeks, relations who have no involvement in crime and Brian have been selling Christmas trees from outside his family home on the outskirts of Limerick city. Despite the drugs bust, the trees remained on sale yesterday.
The Collopys were said to have done a roaring trade in recent weeks as the holidays approach. The trees are priced between €25 and €45, depending on size, and the Collopys are among the biggest Christmas tree traders in the region.
The €50,000 cache of heroin was recovered in a house in the St Mary's Park area of Limerick.
Armed detectives, equipped with an emergency search warrant, entered the house at 6pm on Tuesday and caught the brothers following a nine-month investigation into the gang.
Just over five miles away from the drugs bust, the heavily fortified bungalow where the Christmas trees are for sale, was previously the scene of a major garda murder investigation.
Brian Collopy's son Kenneth (24) is serving a life sentence for the 2009 gun murder of Daniel Fitzgerald. Following the murder, the bungalow was sealed off for the week as gardaí searched for the murder weapon. The handgun was found along a busy road near the house.
During the searches of the home, almost €20,000 in cash was found. Brian's wife, Maria, unsuccessfully applied to Limerick District Court to have the cash returned to her.
Gardaí objected to the cash being returned after drugs worth €250,000 were recovered in outhouses and lands surrounding the property. They contended that the money seized was directly connected to the large quantity of drugs found close to the Collopy house.
Two years ago, Brian Collopy had an eight-year sentence for witness intimidation reduced by two years by the Court of Criminal Appeal.
In 2011, Kieran Collopy (40) along with his brother, Damian Collopy (25), of St Ita's Street, St Mary's Park, Limerick, were both jailed for five years for threatening to kill Willie Moran.
The brothers believed Moran had money belonging to their late brother - Philip Collopy - who shot himself in 2009.