TWENTY-four suspects arrested during a major undercover operation targeting drug gangs in Dublin are expected to be charged next week.
Operation Trident, which was led by the Garda National Drugs Unit (GNDU), involved detectives buying crack cocaine and other drugs off street dealers in the Crumlin/Drimnagh area.
The Herald has learned that the specialist GNDU'S elite "undercover test purchasing unit" were involved in buying drugs on 70 different occasions, which ultimately led to the arrest of 27 people.
Three of those arrested are under 18 and gardai say that they are being dealt with under the juvenile liaison scheme.
"This operation was active from December 2012 until April of this year and the arrests were made between June 5 and June 7," a source stated.
The drugs seized by the undercover operatives include heroin, cannabis resin, ecstasy and crack cocaine.
Detectives from the Garda National Drugs Unit and Crumlin Garda Station backed up by armed members of the Emergency Response Unit swooped on the suspects in the Crumlin area.
A senior source explained: "Traditionally undercover gardai have been involved in buying drugs at street level but this operation was different because it targeted criminals who were much higher up the food chain."
It has emerged that in a series of stings, the undercover gardai purchased "significant quantities" of drugs.
"This was a massive operation in terms of the fact that some gardai had actually moved into houses in the locality of where these gangs are operating so that they could observe exactly what was going on," the source explained.
"Some of those who were arrested have been caught selling sizeable amounts of heroin and crack cocaine to undercover gardai."
The criminals ended up trusting the undercover lads so much that they even held meetings with them where they revealed their drug-dealing strategies.