Gardai have disrupted the operations of a notorious Dublin criminal who has been supplying a major gang flooding the south east of the country with drugs.
A massive surveillance operation that has led to the seizure of €4.4m worth of drugs and thousands of euro worth of contraband cigarettes has struck a major blow against the gang.
Today the Herald can reveal:
•A 33-year-old Donaghmede drugs trafficker who lives in Co Meath has been providing the gang with their drugs
•This man was a very close associate of Sean Dunne, a well-known armed robber and drug dealer who disappeared in Spain in 2004, presumed murdered.
•The leader of the south east drugs gang is based in Carlow town and is suspected of gambling half a million euro in bookies over the last few years
• The Carlow gangster is paying large sums of "protection money" directly to a feared criminal from north Dublin who leads the Real IRA in the capital.
Both the Donaghmede drugs trafficker and the Carlow gang boss were among 13 people arrested by gardai last week.
The duo were arrested under anti-gangland legislation and questioned about directing a criminal organisation -- an offence that carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
The 33-year-old drugs trafficker has survived an assassination attempt in 2006 and was considered a very close associate of notorious drug dealer Dunne who gardai believe was murdered seven years ago.
At the time that Dunne disappeared, the Criminal Assets Bureau was seeking about €4m from him after assessing him for unpaid taxes on his income since the mid 1990s.
The bureau identified 13 properties owned by him as well as land in Co Meath, and later sold it.
And the Criminal Assets Bureau played a major role in this week's operation with the primary target being the Co Meath-based criminal who detectives believe took over Dunne's drugs business when he vanished without trace.
The highly secret operation has been ongoing for the past year and has yielded 18 seizures of controlled substances and cash, while €4.4m worth of drugs -- including cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines -- has also been recovered.
A source explained: "This operation has been surveillance led and it is one of the biggest undertaken by gardai in recent years. The main targets are the drugs trafficker who is based in Co Meath and the Carlow drugs boss.
"Gardai now have a huge amount of information about how this drugs operation was working with the analysis of traffic on mobile phones and documentation playing a major part in the investigation.
"Some very interesting details have emerged including information that the Carlow target has gambled over half a million euro in bookies over the past couple of years despite having no legitimate income.
"Another interesting aspect is that the gang are paying protection money to the Real IRA."
The Herald has learned that the Carlow-based crime lord -- who suffered a horrendous personal tragedy some years ago and has a string of previous convictions for public order offences -- is paying large sums of "protection money" directly to the feared criminal from Donaghmede in north Dublin who leads the Real IRA.
We can't disclose the dissident republican's identity as he is facing charges in court but sources say that he has been "taxing" hundreds of drug dealers across the country. Sources say that detailed files will now be prepared for the DPP.