Gardai monitoring the Drogheda feud have arrested a teenage girl who was caught with a petrol bomb on the troubled Moneymore estate in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Detectives are investigating if the 17-year-old girl was on her way to attack property on behalf of the notorious anti-Maguire faction, which was close linked to slain hitman Robbie Lawlor (36), the hitman shot dead in Belfast on April 4.
He was the chief suspect in the murder of Keane Mulready-Woods (17) in January.
The girl was walking in the estate at 2am when gardai became suspicious, searched her and discovered the suspected bomb.
The suspect was taken to Drogheda Garda Station but was released without charge later yesterday and is expected to be dealt with under the juvenile liaison programme.
"This is another case of gardai arresting what can be described as a vulnerable person, who acts as a runner for these feuding gangs," a source said last night.
The petrol bomb seizure occurred on the back of a busy bank holiday weekend for gardai in Drogheda. They carried out a number of search operations in the town against members of the anti-Maguire faction.
In one incident, the boyfriend of a sister of one of the on-the-run gang leaders was arrested after gardai recovered cannabis when they stopped and searched a car.
A man in his late 20s and another in his early 30s were detained after drugs and cash were found when a car was stopped and searched on the Ballymakenny Road at around 3.45pm on Monday by members of the Divisional Drugs Unit attached to Drogheda Garda Station.
A number of follow-up searches were carried out and the third suspect - a man in his 30s - was then arrested.
"The drug seizure is part of the gardai's strategy to keep hitting these feuding gangs where it hurts," a source said last night. "These are not huge seizures but they do help keep the pressure on these thugs."
The development came as gardai were preparing for the imminent return of gang boss Cornelius Price, who is due to return from Rochdale in the UK to his compound in Gormanston, Co Meath.
Price is a close associate of paralysed Drogheda criminal Owen Maguire and a bitter rival of the other faction in the brutal feud which has now claimed four lives.
"Cornelius Price and his close associates in the Maguire faction firmly believe that they have the upper hand in that dispute now that Lawlor is dead," a source said.
Despite being a bitter enemy of Lawlor, Price and his crew are not direct suspects in his murder, which happened in the front garden of a house in the Ardoyne area of Belfast.
However, Price's pals in the Maguire faction are being investigated for ordering it.
As police in the North investigate Lawlor's murder, gardai here are braced for the return of a "triumphant" Price who is said to be "delighted" that a video of him celebrating Lawlor's death went viral on YouTube.
The 38-year-old criminal was recorded just hours after the murder saying: "Cheers to Robbie Lawlor, rest in peace. He's not even meant to rest in peace but fair play to you.
"There you go boy," Price adds before drinking a shot of spirit.
The Herald previously revealed how Price was involved in an attack on Lawlor behind bars after offering him a "Judas" handshake. Lawlor needed 29 stitches after suffering extensive injuries in the attack in Cork Prison in October 2018.
In December, the Herald revealed that Price was being forced to return from the UK to live in his compound in Gormanston, Co Meath, after receiving information that the slain hitman was going to shoot a close female relative of his after Lawlor was released from jail.
Senior sources said that he was there to protect his relative, but Price left Ireland just five weeks later after the gruesome murder of tragic teen Mulready-Woods, which took place in January.