Major gangland figure Karl Breen was once the leader of ruthless drugs mob ‘Infamous D22’ which terrorised people in west Dublin.
However, since his release from jail last October, Breen struggled to re-establish himself as a leading crime figure in the capital and spent much of his time hanging out with low level criminals from Athlone, Co Westmeath, who he met in prison.
Breen was given a nine-year jail sentence in October 2007 for the manslaughter of his pal Martin McLaughlin on January 1, 2006, during a cocaine and booze-fuelled session at Jurys Croke Park Hotel.
Breen earned his ‘Champagne Killer’ nickname when it emerged that he was part of a group of five couples who drank five bottles of Moet & Chandon before the new year celebrations turned very nasty.
At his murder trial, it was revealed that Breen stabbed his close mate Martin McLaughlin three times in a brutal row before going on the run for two days.
The build-up to the case was marked by a campaign of terrifying intimidation against witnesses which was driven by Breen’s gangland associates.
A key witness was forced to flee to Spain after he was warned that he would be murdered if he gave evidence in the trial.
The witness’s Clondalkin home was shot at a number of times by members of Breen’s gang in the months before the case came to trial.
Threatening graffiti about the individual was also sprayed in housing estates in the area.
Sources say that at its height between 2004 and 2007 Breen’s gang were one of the biggest heroin trafficking gangs in Dublin and were linked to at least three gangland murders in the capital.
The mob had dozens of juvenile “foot soldiers”, many of whom had an irrational sense of loyalty to Breen.
Senior members of Breen’s so-called ‘Infamous D22’ mob used impressionable teenagers to carry drugs and guns for them.
In April 2009, gardai arrested a 15-year-old boy who was wearing surgical gloves and was busted as he attempted to hide a shotgun and a round of ammunition in Clondalkin. The boy had been promised by Breen’s mob that he would be dealt with differently if caught because he was a juvenile.
With Breen locked up, the ‘Infamous D22’ began to lose ground to an equally ruthless rival gang of young hoods from the Clondalkin area.
They are closely linked to armed robber Thomas Freeman (55) who is currently in prison for his role in a tiger kidnapping in Co Galway.
Breen’s main enforcer on the outside, Pierce Reid (24), was murdered outside his Clondalkin home by the rival crew in August 2009 in a clinical gangland hit.
Tensions reached boiling point in the immediate aftermath of Reid’s murder when the home of an innocent family was shot up.
Another innocent family’s home was pipe-bombed in a case of mistaken identity – members of Breen’s mob were blamed for both incidents.
The rival mob struck back and the roof of the local church where Reid’s funeral mass was due to take place was daubed with graffiti taunting the murder victim’s gang.
The words “D22 INFAMOUS RATS” were painted in large letters on the roof of the Church of the Transfiguration in Bawnogue, Clondalkin causing outrage in the local community.
Sources say that Reid’s murder “further weakened” his boss’s influence in the Dublin underworld scene and by the time he was eventually released from jail, Breen was isolated from many of his former associates.
Breen was far from a model prisoner and in the early stages of his sentence, he still controlled his crime empire from behind bars but was twice caught with mobile phones in jail.
He was also disciplined by prison bosses after being involved in a number of brutal brawls including a
savage attack on a female prison
officer and her colleague in the Midlands Prison in November 2011.
Last December, The Herald revealed that gardai were trying to locate Breen after he moved from his Athlone base back to Dublin.
Our article prompted a furious reaction from Breen who posted a foul-mouthed rant on his Facebook site.
In the rant he stated that he would not inform gardai where he lived because officers might try to get him killed by other criminals.
He bizarrely claimed that gardai had tried to kill him in the past. “They tried to kill me and make it look like an accident, only for there was a witness there they would’ve killed me,” he claimed.
Breen also wrote that the bitter
feud in Clondalkin that he had been heavily involved in was over and he attacked the media for writing about him.