| 8.1°C Dublin

Gardai quiz four after telescopic sniper rifle found in gang swoop

A HEAVY-DUTY firearm with a telescopic sight and a silencer has been seized by gardai investigating gangland activity in Crumlin.

The discovery of the weapon which is being considered "very significant" happened when officers saw two men acting suspiciously on Captain's Road.

Four men aged between 19 and 21 were arrested during the search yesterday and were being held at three different south city stations today.

Early indications are that the arrested men have "loose links" to gang boss 'Fat' Freddie Thompson.

Sources say that the arrests happened after detectives noticed two men throwing a package over a wall into a field at Captain's Road.

The package turned out to contain the firearm and other components.

The men were stopped and a search of the field later showed two other men in the area who are suspected of waiting around to get the rifle.

An examination of the package showed that it contained the components of a "heavy duty" rifle.

Sources say that all four of the suspects in custody today were previously unknown to gardai for serious offences.

Gardai are confident that the gun was being transported from one location to another -- possibly to be used in a gangland hit.

Detectives are satisfied that the gun seizure is not linked in any way to the shooting of innocent 16-year-old Stephen Hynes who was injured after being shot in the back in nearby Lismore Road just over three hours later.

A source explained: "It would not be right to say that these are associates of Freddie Thompson but there are links there through some of their friends.

"These are young fellas who are only coming to the fore now -- they were being used by more serious criminals to transport the firearm.

"But the way they carried on yesterday showed that they are not the smartest and they may have got in well over their head.

"Charges are very likely in this case and it was a very significant seizure."