Detectives are investigating whether two men who were busted in a car in north Dublin with a loaded handgun and a silencer were on their way to carry out a gangland hit.
The Ballymun duo, aged 22- and 25, remained in custody in Coolock Garda station last night after their dramatic arrest at Carton Way, close to the Ikea superstore in the Ballymun area, shortly after 5pm on Monday.
Sources have revealed that a number of follow-up searches targeting at least three homes in Ballymun happened yesterday, as gardai attempted to find out exactly what the men were at when their car was "boxed in" by armed officers.
"A prominent theory is that these lads were on their way to whack someone but it is not yet known who their target was. It is believed that they had been in the Finglas area before they were stopped by gardai," a source said last night. "Whatever they were doing, they were certainly up to no good and this is considered a good capture."
The 9mm handgun was found in the footwell of the front passenger seat, with three rounds of 9mm ammunition and a silver silencer in the car which was being driven by the 22-year-old.
Sources say this young man "has only come to the attention" of gardai in the last 18 months in terms of organised crime.
His older pal is much better-known to officers and is currently on bail on charges in relation to an armed robbery earlier this year.
The 25-year-old is understood to be a junior member of the mob connected to feared thug Thomas 'Nicky' McConnell (30) from Ballymun, who is free after he was jailed for five years for threatening to kill a 28-year-old mother in August 2011, and for possession of over €16,000 of the drug "snow blow" at his home in October 2010.
Nicky's crew are understood to have formed an alliance with under-threat hood Derek 'Bottler' Devoy in recent months after Devoy's jail release.