GARDAI are closing the net on a notorious 'fishing' gang who are responsible for a spate of top-of-the-range car thefts over recent months.
The mob are led by a convicted Crumlin drug dealer who operates a business in Ballymount and are the chief suspects for stealing at least 16 of the valuable cars since the start of this year.
A senior source explained: "They are very active and very organised. The leader of the crew never takes part in the actual robbing but he has six fellas who work for him and they are making a lot of money out of this."
The gang are now the main targets of Operation Creeper – a long time investigation into organised crime and burglaries in Dublin.
Gardai brand the criminal craze 'fishing' because it involves attaching a magnet to the end of a fishing rod or long pole, pushing it through letterboxes and using it to remove keys left behind locked doors.
"This crew have been primarily going after Mercs but also Audis as well. They have been very active in particular in the general Clondalkin and Tallaght areas as well as Rathfarnham and Firhouse," the source revealed.
The gang leader was previously jailed for heroin dealing and has also been targeted by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
He is closely linked to gangster 'Fat' Freddie Thompson and cannot be named for legal reasons here because he is facing a criminal trial for serious separate offences.
"Make no mistake about it, this individual is one of the best known criminals operating in the city and is connected to a number of dangerous gangs.
"The cars that are being taken obviously have a high sale value and some of them are simply put in containers and shipped out of the country where they are being sold abroad.
"In other instances, the cars are being stripped down at various premises around Ireland where the parts are then sold sometimes to completely innocent customers," the senior source pointed out.
The gangster in charge of the south Dublin 'fishing' operation is also suspected of organising the double murder of car dealer Brian Downes (40), who was gunned down alongside Edward Ward (24) in 2007 in Walkinstown.