A close associate of crime lord John Gilligan fears for his own life after a grim "murder list" was drawn up by a brutal west Dublin drugs gang behind two gun killings in one week.
Gilligan's associate, who is facing serious drugs and firearms charges, was a close pal of the Clondalkin feud's latest murder victim John Gibson (28).
He was shot in the head and at least three times in the body in a gun attack in Tallaght on Monday night.
Gibson's murder was the fourth of the drugs feud and officers have been investigating if he was targeted after swearing revenge for the murder of his pal Darragh Nugent (36), who was shot on Wheatfield Avenue in Neilstown almost a week earlier.
A close friend of both victims may be next on the list of the gang, and gardai are monitoring whether Gilligan's associate will become the next target.
"All the indications are that this is what he thinks himself, at least. This is looking like a wipe-out situation and this fella was very close to the other two victims," a senior source said last night.
"Information has come in that he went missing on Monday night after hearing about the murder of his friend Gibson.
"He was completely distraught and is understood to be also very worried now about his own safety."
The under-fire criminal, who is aged in his early 20s, has since been located and has even taken to social media to post comments in tribute to his murdered pal.
Gardai are investigating if one of the capital's most dangerous drugs gangs plan to make him their next target as part of a deadly turf war.
"He is really feeling the pressure now," a source said last night.
He and the two murdered men were closely linked to jailed Clondalkin hitman James 'Nellie' Walsh.
Gardai believe the murders of Nugent and Gibson were carried out by the west Dublin crime group who are intent on "wiping out" Walsh's gang.
However, sources say that, after two gun murders in the space of a week, Nellie's associates may also now attempt to strike back, and the mob is understood to have the backing of a number of serious Crumlin-based gangsters.
They are already responsible for one of the feud's four unsolved murders - that of the rival mob's kingpin Jason 'Jay' Carroll (39), who was fatally shot at his home at Cherrywood Drive in Clondalkin in August 2013.
Carroll's murder was in retaliation for a tragic incident in which innocent Dean Johnson was shot dead in a case of mistaken identity as the rival gang had tried to murder Nellie five days earlier.
"This feud has now claimed four lives - it definitely has the potential to take many more on both sides, but it is Nellie's crowd who are looking the much weaker now," a senior source said.
"He is locked up, two of his closest associates have been murdered in the space of a week and another is under grave threat. This is a very serious situation."
The associate of hated crime figure Gilligan was only a small child when the crime boss' gang murdered Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996.
Gilligan is believed to have raked in millions during the 1990s, when he was flooding the country with drugs.
He spent 17 years in prison for drug trafficking, and is widely believed to have ordered the murder of Ms Guerin.
His young associate has been spotted in Gilligan's company a number of times in west Dublin since the latter was released from Portlaoise Prison almost four years ago.
It is not known if he will run to the veteran criminal for help, but it is unlikely Gilligan will want any involvement in the feud.
Meanwhile, a massive investigation was continuing last night into the murder of John Gibson, which is being led by Tallaght gardai, who yesterday appealed for information.
Supt Peter Duff said: "The deceased, John Gibson, a 28-year-old father of two small children from the Lucan area, was parked in his silver Audi car at Citywest Shopping Centre.
"Another vehicle entered the car park, and it appears Mr Gibson suffered a number of fatal gunshot wounds and was later pronounced dead at the scene."
He said an examination would also be carried out on a VW Caddy found burned out on Verschoyle Green nearby.
Gardai believe that the van may have been white, and appealed for anyone who may have seen it in the area to come forward.
The Herald previously revealed that a magazine clip was recovered in the front seat of this vehicle.