DETECTIVES have seized four stolen guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in a major strike against a notorious organised crime gang.
The discovery of three shotguns and one high-powered rifle was made by officers from Bray Garda Station at a house in the Dargle Road area of the Co Wicklow town.
Sources say that tensions are high among a number of competing factions in the seaside town over control of the local drugs trade.
A man and a woman were arrested during the operation, which has been described as "highly significant".
They were both released on Thursday night, but a file is now being prepared for the DPP and charges against the man are understood to be likely in the case.
"He is a big player, make no mistake about that. Tuesday's operation was intelligence-led and had been planned for some time," said a source.
He has a number of previous convictions which include possession of a flick knife, possession of ammunition, handling stolen property and possession of drugs.
The suspect was previously caught by gardai with five live bullets stored in a jar and has multiple convictions for motoring offences.
The recovered weapons were not part of a batch of 29 firearms which were robbed from a gun shop in Ashford, Co Wicklow, in September.
Sources say that the firearms suspect is linked to a notorious crimelord from Bray who fled Ireland in 2009 and is suspected of being based in Spain.
The gang boss was arrested for a double murder that happened in Firhouse, south Dublin, in November 2005, for which he is thought to have provided logistical support.
The 40-year-old crimelord had strong links to the 'Fat' Freddie Thompson drugs organisation and is understood to have controlled the drugs trade in north Wicklow.
His operations are now being run by a number of younger associates who are said to keep in constant contact with him.
Gardai in Bray have had some major successes against crime gangs this year, including a separate seizure of three firearms and almost 200 rounds of ammunition in March.
A month earlier officers seized a 9mm Mac-10 machine gun, along with a silencer, ammunition and other firearms was found during the search of a car boot during a routine garda patrol in the centre of the town.