Armed gardai foiled a suspected gangland hit after a 23-year-old associate of the Hutch mob was arrested on a crowded train with a fully-loaded handgun.
The suspect was dragged off the train by heavily armed gardai at Connolly Station at 3.20pm yesterday.
In a follow-up operation, a 20-year-old woman was arrested at Dublin Airport as she attempted to flee the country.
The Herald can reveal that the young woman - an associate of Hutch mobster Keith Murtagh - was seen handing over the loaded firearm at the busiest train station in the country.
Both suspects, who are well known to each other, were being held last night at Store Street Garda Station.
Heavily armed officers from the Armed Support Unit (ASU) pounced on the young criminal as commuters looked on during rush hour.
It is suspected that the loaded handgun was being delivered to a hideout in the North, where at least half a dozen Hutch gang associates are in hiding.
These include cartel targets James 'Mago' Gately, Keith Murtagh and a young criminal who is suspected of involvement in the Regency Hotel attack last year.
The suspected Regency gunman is closely linked to the 20-year-old woman who was arrested at Dublin Airport yesterday.
Last night, sources said that gardai could not rule out that a hit was planned to take place on the train and were forced to act swiftly.
The male arrested with the firearm in yesterday's operation is an associate of the Hutch gang and a suspected drug dealer.
From the north-inner city, he is well known to local gardai.
A 32-year-old male relative of this man was previously warned of a threat against his life as part of the Hutch/Kinahan feud.
"In all probability this loaded firearm was being delivered to the North where Hutch gang members are hiding," a senior source said last night.
"But it can't be ruled out that they were going to carry out a hit on the train itself.
"Armed officers were faced with no choice but to act swiftly over these fears.
"It's regrettable that the general public were scared by what happened in the train station, but this was a life or death situation and a firearm has been taken off the streets," the source added.
The young female arrested at Dublin Airport is an associate of on-the-run Hutch gang member Keith Murtagh, who has survived at least two attempts on his life as part of the feud.
This woman is also suspected of having intimate knowledge of the Regency Hotel bloodbath due to her relationship with one of the suspected gunmen.
This man is currently being sought in relation to outstanding warrants not linked to the feud. A number of raids have also been carried out at his north-inner city family home.
The young criminal, who is aged in his mid-20s, is also suspected by the cartel of carrying out a botched hit on Liam Roe at the Red Cow Hotel in 2015.
Gardai believe that this under-threat gangster is currently hiding out in the North with Keith Murtagh and another target of the cartel, James 'Mago' Gately.
'Mago' has survived a number of attempts on his life, most recently in May, when he was shot a number of times.
The 30-year-old was targeted outside the Topaz petrol station in Clonshaugh, north Dublin, on May 10.
'Mago' previously warned that the feud would not end until Daniel Kinahan was shot dead.
Yesterday's surveillance operation, involving the Drugs and Organised Crime Unit (DOCB), was initiated after gardai received intelligence on the transport of the firearm.
Members of the Special Crime Task Force (SCTF) also assisted in the operation.