GARDAI have smashed one of the country's most notorious burglary gangs after arresting five criminals when they committed two burglaries.
The mob, who are part of an larger Traveller gang, have been linked to well over 100 burglaries across the country and have been one of the main targets for Operation Fiacla, the nationwide anti-burglary operation.
Armed officers from the Eastern Regional Support Unit picked up the suspects on the M4 motorway at Johnstown, Co Kildare, after two burglaries in Drumshambo, Co. Leitrim.
The suspects who are aged between 17 and their early 30s have addresses in Clondalkin, Firhouse, Rathfarnham and Maynooth, Co Kildare.
A source said: "This crew is one of the most prolific operating in the country – they have been using the motorway network to carry out burglaries and they are suspected of getting literally hundreds of thousands of euros' worth of goods, jewellery and cash."
A garda spokesman said that following reports of the two burglaries in Co Leitrim, a navy Volkswagen Golf was observed in the locality.
"Following these reports the garda vehicles took up positions on the N4 close to Longford and monitored all the eastbound traffic," they explained.
"Eastern Region RSU units were also monitoring the M4 motorway and at approximately 11.20pm they observed a navy coloured VW Golf travelling eastbound between Mullinger and Enfield. The vehicle was stopped on the M4 at Johnstown.
"During a search of the car gardaí discovered cash as well as other items," the spokesman added.
The Herald understands that items recovered included housebreaking implements.
One of the teenagers in custody is a member of a notorious Traveller crime family who have been involved in organised burglaries for decades.
He currently resides in the Firhouse area.
A number of the suspects are currently on bail in relation to other offences.
Operation Fiacla has led to the arrest of almost 9,000 people since it began almost two years ago.
The initiative is aimed at tackling burglaries nationwide.
Earlier this month, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said: "It has proven to be a robust and effective response to burglary offences and this is borne out by the latest figures by the Central Statistics Office."