A dangerous criminal who is a suspect in the murder of a 21-year-old man shot dead in a case of mistaken identity has become one of the biggest cocaine traffickers in the country.
The latest garda success against the suspected killer's gang came when detectives seized €140,000 worth of cocaine in Lucan as part of a surveillance operation at 8pm on Monday.
They arrested three men, but not the suspect in the Dean Johnson murder.
The Clondalkin-based convicted drugs dealer, who is aged in his late 20s, is one of 13 people arrested by gardai investigating the murder of tragic Dean Johnson.
Dean was shot dead at Harelawn Green in Clondalkin at 12.20am on August 24, 2013.
He was the innocent victim of a west Dublin feud in which he had no involvement. The intended target was a hitman who is currently on remand in prison.
It can now be revealed that since Dean was shot dead, the suspect in the case has "risen through the ranks" of the capital's drug-dealing scene and is now considered one of the biggest cocaine traffickers in west Dublin.
"This individual is extremely cautious and paranoid but gardai are continuing to eat into his operations," a source said.
It is understood that the gangster has moved on to a patch which was once controlled by his pal, Clondalkin criminal Jason 'Jay' Carroll, who was shot dead in August 2013.
Carroll (39) was strongly linked to a number of serious criminals and was an extremely close friend of Daniel Kinahan - the son of the leader of Ireland's biggest and most dangerous drugs syndicate, Christy Kinahan.
Monday night's operation was headed up by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and led to the seizure of two kilos of cocaine when officers stopped cars in the Lucan area.
"They were pretty much caught red-handed and this seizure is considered significant," a source said last night.
Three men aged 31, 32 and 35 were arrested at the scene and were being questioned last night in Ronanstown and Clondalkin Garda stations.
This is the second major garda bust against the mob in recent weeks.
Last month, detectives seized €420,000 worth of drugs linked to the gang when they stopped a number of vehicles in west Dublin, before searching a number of properties in the capital as part of a planned operation which led to the arrest of two men aged in their 30s.
The gang are also suspected of controlling €2m worth of drugs which were seized by gardai in Dublin last year.
Meanwhile, gardai are continuing to investigate the murder of Dean Johnson and a file on the case has been sent to the DPP.
Dean had left a pub on the night of his murder when a car pulled up and two gunmen got out. One approached the victim and opened fire.
Innocent Dean attempted to flee but was shot dead.
The gunmen fled in the car, which was found burnt out at Collinstown Crescent with two firearms inside.
A major gangster, who had been out socialising with Dean earlier in the night, was the intended target of the hit.
Gardai suspect this man then murdered criminal Jason Carroll less than a week later because he blamed Carroll for masterminding the fatal shooting.
It later emerged that the suspected double killer was planning to murder four rivals on the same night.
At Dean's funeral Mass, Dean's parents made a special appeal "to all those who may be tempted towards violence, that they want to say clearly they do not want violence in their name".