DETECTIVES foiled a bloodbath when they seized a submachine gun from two brothers extorting cash from Dublin’s druglords.
The fully-loaded weapon belonged to the dissident republican racketeers targeting drug dealers and pub door security.
Two brothers with Real IRA and INLA connections have been demanding a “crime tax” from figures such as gang boss ‘Fat’ Freddie Thompson and convicted drug dealer Eamonn Kelly.
Some gangsters are so in fear of the RIRA rackets gang they have set up a comical-sounding grouping known as the Criminal Action Force (CAF).
The group even posed for a publicity shot -- but gardai say that, despite the comical nature of the group's bleatings, the situation is serious.
Just last week, four Ingram sub machine guns belonging to Thompson were seized in north Dublin as he tooled up against the Real IRA brothers. Now, a loaded Ingram machine pistol belonging to the brothers has been discovered by gardai during a planned search by the Special Branch detectives on Saturday in Clondalkin.
Three men and one woman were arrested during the intelligence-led raid.
The woman was released without charge yesterday while the three men were continuing to be quizzed by gardai today.
The four are linked to the two brothers who are operating as members of the Real IRA in Dublin's north inner city.
Officers from the Special Detectives Unit (SDU) at Harcourt Square searched a house in Westbourne Avenue in Clondalkin on Saturday afternoon and made the find.
Two of the men and the woman are in their 30s while the third man is in his 20s.
The three men are being questioned in Clondalkin, Shankill and Blackrock Garda stations and are detained under Section 30 of the Offences against the State Act. The gang is being run by two criminal brothers and has been linked to murders, attempted assassinations and a €400,000 extortion racket.
The Real IRA gang's main aim is to control pub security in the capital and beyond and extort money from Dublin's leading crime figures. In response, a number of criminal gangs have joined forces to form a so-called 'Criminal Action Force' and have threatened to kill the brothers and anyone aligned to them.
The group recently released a photo of masked and armed members.
"We want to state categorically that we will execute any criminals, big or small, who act as collaborators with this gang," they said in a statement.
"We are a big group and we have lots of guns and men."
The gang tensions in north Dublin, which are threatening to erupt into all-out war, have already resulted in the death of three men.
The tensions have also been linked to the shooting at the reputable Players Lounge, in Fairview, which saw three innocent people hospitalised.
Innocent doorman Wayne Barrett (31), who is employed by a legitimate security business, and equally innocent patrons Austin Purcell (23) and Brian Masterson (30) were injured in the attack but miraculously survived. Mr Barrett only regained consciousness last week after one of the bullets struck him in the head.
Underworld figure Colm 'Collie' Owens, hitman Daniel Gaynor and low-level drug dealer Sean Winters were all shot dead over the summer in attacks linked to the gang war.
Owens, a close associate of slain gang boss Eamonn 'The Don' Dunne, was killed after a number of west Dublin gangs and the dissident thugs fell out over money. The republican gang is believed to have hired hitman Gaynor (24) to take out Owens (34) on July 9.
Gaynor himself was gunned down by a Ballyfermot hitman outside his home on August 14.
The Real IRA gang is also believed to be behind the execution style killing of drug dealer Sean Winters (40).
Winters was shot twice in the head just yards from his apartment close to the Portmarnock Dart Station on September 12.
Saturday's seizure came 72 hours after the unrelated seizure of four other Ingram machine pistols with loaded magazines and separate ammunition clips and silencers at a lock-up in Mulhuddart, Dublin.
Paul O'Neill (38) from Smithfield Terrace, Dublin was remanded in custody at Dublin District Court on Friday charged with possession of two guns and ammunition.