Two senior members of one of Ireland's most deadly drug gangs were watched by gardai as they bid for a commercial property at an Allsop Space Auction at Dublin's RDS this week.
The two Rathfarnham brothers - who are key members of the notorious Paul Rice drugs gang - would have paid €200 to simply register to make bids at the auction of repossessed properties in Ballsbridge.
However, it was not long before the duo, who are both suspected of operating legitimate businesses as fronts for the gang's criminal activities, were spotted by a garda from Donnybrook Garda Station.
It is understood that this garda then passed on what he had observed to his colleagues in the Criminal Assets Bureau who have been building a major case against Rice and his cronies.
"As it turns out the brothers were unsuccessful in their bid for a warehouse that was being sold at a knocked-down price, but it was still being sold for a considerable amount of money.
"It just goes to show how much spare cash that this gang has. Their presence at the auction was noted by gardai and will form part of a larger investigation into the Paul Rice gang," a source said.
"In many ways it shows the absolute cheek of these fellas, but they should know that they are being watched all the time."
UK auction house Allsop and its Dublin affiliate Allsop Space have sold millions of euro worth of "distressed properties" in Ireland since the recession kicked-in here in 2009, and it is not known how many criminals have taken advantage of the many auctions that they have held.
However, on Monday it seems that two key lieutenants in the Paul Rice mob were unable to take advantage and were outbid.
One of the brothers, aged 43 is understood to have a deep hatred of gardai who he believes "pick on him".
Less than two months ago, dozens of armed gardai were involved in a major operation against crime kingpin Paul Rice just weeks after he carried the coffin of his slain best pal Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh, who was shot dead in Spain's Costa-Del-Crime in early September.
Tensions were high during the raid at Rice's Tallaght home, but he was not arrested in the operation on October 9 in which the Emergency Response Unit backed up the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Rice has been on the garda radar because of his gang's involvement in a number of extremely violent incidents, as well as their links to the Christy Kinahan international crime syndicate.
Paul Rice's most serious conviction was when he was jailed for 10 years in July 1995 after pleading guilty to a bank robbery.