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SWAT units take to streets in major show of strength

Specialist armed garda units took to the streets of Crumlin early today in a show of force against local gangsters.

The Emergency Response Units were assigned to patrols in the Crumlin and Drimnagh areas, amid speculation of a new wave of blood-letting between various feuding factions.

The deployment was made in light of increasing levels of overnight gun and pipe bomb crime over recent weeks.

Earlier this week, two blasts were fired from a shotgun into a house on Cooley Road.

They went through the front door, embedding pellets in a wall and stairway of the house, where an innocent woman in her 40s, who has no involvement in crime, lives.

"There has been a shooting incident of some kind practically every second night in the area for the past two weeks and an 'in your face' policing policy has been ordered from the top" said a garda source. "High visibility on the ground is the key word."

The area is a powder keg as various individuals jostle for power bases with the main gang boss in the area in jail, and his rival Freddie Thompson in Spain.

These include a relatively new trio of criminals seeking to take over from the jailed gang leader.

One of the men has already lost relatives in the turf war which has claimed at least 16 lives.

Another is a freelance thug who has invented a macho image for himself and who in the past has fired shots into the homes of drug debtors for either faction.

He has given himself a nickname to match his bravado.

"He is dangerous because, like the other two, he is a loose cannon and desperate to make a name for himself. It would do wonders for his ego if he saw himself being given the name in the papers."

The third member of the emerging gang is the son of a well-known local criminal who is also described as "volatile". The 'in your face' style of policing is aimed at preventing the gangs moving in and out of their areas and stopping those in the lower ranks from moving drugs and guns around the city. In recent weeks the same policing method has been applied in the Finglas and the Coolock, Darndale and Kilbarrack areas.

But shortly after it was deployed in Coolock last month, gangsters carried out the audacious gun murder of local criminal Noel Deans, despite armed units being in the area.

Motorists have been confronted by armed gardai wearing balaclava-style headgear accompanying uniformed officers at checkpoints on the northside during the operation there.