THREE men who acted as "mules" for the King Ratt drug gang have been jailed for 10 years each at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
The three have been jailed after a €3.2m drug seizure, which exposed links between the Crumlin gang and criminals in Sligo.
Judge Katherine Delahunt said that anyone caught with that amount of drugs was well above the lowest level and deserved the mandatory minimum sentence for 10 years.
"None of you rank at the bottom rung of the drugs trade," she told the men. "You may not be the barons but you provide a very effective barrier between them and the gardai."
John Paul Cawley (30) of Lugdoon, Doocastle, Ballymoate, Sligo; Andrew Meeson (40) of The Hawthorns, Carraroe, Sligo; Greg O'Brien (20) of Dolphins Road, Drimnagh, were convicted of possessing heroin worth €3.27m at Boomer's car park, Woodford Walk, Clondalkin in Dublin on January 23, 2009.
O'Brien is a known member of the King Ratt gang, which is feuding with the rival 'Fat' Freddie Thompson crime outfit.
In court, Judge Delahunt said she accepted the three men had co-operated with gardai but only because they were caught "red-handed". She also noted they had not provided any information beyond their own involvement.
Rejecting appeals to suspend some of the term, she said she was being generous and that if it was not for their early guilty pleas, their sentences would be even longer.
Detective Garda Paul Kane told Sean Guerin, prosecuting, that a garda operation was put in place on the evening and a Nissan Almera and a Fiat Punto car pulled up at a car park in Ballyfermot.
The driver of the Fiat Punto, identified as Greg O'Brien, got out of his car and went to the Nissan Almera and then returned to his car.
Gardai followed the two cars to Boomer's car park where they searched and located a sports holdall containing 14 half kilo bags of heroin valued at €1.3m on the floor of the front passenger seat in the Punto.
Gardai found a suitcase containing 20 half kilo bags of heroin valued at €1.9m in the Almera, which Cawley was driving and in which Meeson was a passenger.
It was claimed that none of men gained financially from the crime.